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By: Iain Glen

Letters from Canada

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Andrew Glen was born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1912. Initially he worked as an engineer in Toronto, but in 1923 bought a small farm on the outskirts of Pickering. He continued to work on the land for the remainder of his active life and for a period in the 1930’s he contributed a regular column to the ‘Toronto Star’. He recorded his detailed observations of the changing seasons and farming activities related to the time of year. This book presents a selection of these rural essays, originally written between 1931 and 1938. As social history, these essays presented a vivid picture of a way of life unfamiliar to city dwellers at that time, and now provide a reminder of farming skills, implements such as ‘The Old Binder’, and procedures no longer witnessed by current country folk. His descriptive skills were extended to his animals and we meet amongst others ‘Trotsky the Pup’, The Crazy Cow’ and ‘Lazy Lou’, one of his horses.


Many of the articles contain a sprinkling of philosophy and politics. Andrew and his wife Dorothy had been staunch members of the Toronto Labour party and he became one of the founder members of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932, precursor to the National Democratic Party of Canada. This amalgam of talents and interests resulted in his ability to link up the moods of nature with his own hopes and aspirations for the future.

Iain Glen was brought up on a farm on the Isle of Arran in Scotland looking across to the Mull of Kintyre. Iain attended Glasgow University where he studied veterinary medicine and graduated in 1963. He wished to continue in the academic environment and after a year with a Glasgow team in Kenya. He returned as a house-surgeon at Glasgow University Veterinary Hospital. Iain Glen was keen to remain in the University environment and took up a new position doing clinical work and research in veterinary anaesthesia. He was one of the first to obtain a recently established Diploma in Veterinary Anaesthesia. Over the next few years, as well as providing an anaesthetic service for surgical procedures conducted in the surgery department, he began to study the clinical utility in animals of new anaesthetic agents being evaluated or already used in human patients.


This interest in potential new agents encouraged him to respond to an advertisement for a medical or veterinary anaesthetist to join a team of chemists at ICI Pharmaceuticals Division searching for new anaesthetic agents. He joined ICI Pharmaceuticals in 1972 and led a small team of biologists evaluating, in laboratory animals, compounds submitted by project team chemists. Compounds submitted for their tests were either new compounds synthesised by the chemists in their team or selected by them from compounds in ICI compound collections prepared for other possible uses. One of the latter compounds, 2,6-diethylphenol was found to have anaesthetic activity in mice and led to the synthesis and evaluation of related compounds. This led to the selection of 2,6-diisopropylphenol as a candidate for further development, and this agent, now called propofol, formulated in a lipid emulsion, has become a very successful agent, and is now widely used, particularly for day-case procedures, as it allows rapid and clear-headed recovery.


In 2000, he retired from AstraZeneca (ICI Pharmaceuticals Division had been renamed Zeneca and merged with the Swedish company, Astra) and set up Glen Pharma, an independent consultancy providing advice on the development of potential anaesthetic drugs and equipment. At this time, he was closely involved in the development of a system (‘Diprifusor’ target-controlled infusion, TCI), for the administration of propofol by a microprocessor-controlled infusion pump.


He retired in 2010 and in 2018 was pleased to be awarded the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Research Award for the discovery and development of propofol.


In his spare time when young, he played rugby and in later life enjoyed hang-gliding and paragliding, but now restricts his energetic hobbies to golf.

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