Tribute paid to Professor Peter Behan – M.E. expert and ME Association patron | 09 September 2019


Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association.

I knew Peter Behan as a friend and colleague for almost 40 years.

Professor Peter Behan sadly passed away on 31st August 2019

I first met him when the late Dr Melvin Ramsay, who originally diagnosed my own M.E. following an episode of chickenpox encephalitis, suggested that I should go and see Peter at the Institute of Neurological Sciences at the University of Glasgow to help with the research that he was doing into the condition. 

It was immediately obvious that Peter was a very kind and caring physician who knew all about ME.  

Peter was also an outstanding neurologist who, along with his wife Professor Mina Behan and virologist Professor John Gow, was carrying out important research into brain, muscle and immune system function, along with the role of infection, in people with M.E.  

Unlike most of his neurology colleagues he had no doubt that M.E. was a serious neurological illness and that the patients were being badly let down by both clinicians and the research community.  

The papers that were published from his research group at the time played a significant role in helping to change medical opinion about M.E. and the whole situation regarding research. 

The fact that M.E. was firmly on the medical curriculum at the Southern General Hospital also meant that a succession of neurologists working in Peter’s team gained a solid knowledge of the condition – Dr Abhijit Chaudhuri in particular, who now advises the ME Association on neurology.

Peter continued with his research interest well into retirement and helped to develop the research strategy for the MEA Ramsay Research Fund and made personal donations to the fund.

In recognition of his contribution to both clinical and research work he was invited to become a Patron of the ME Association – a position he held until his death at the end of August.

“We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Peter. He will be sadly missed.” Dr Charles Shepherd.

Peter was excellent and amusing company – either in Glasgow, or up in Denkeld where he was an accomplished fisherman with an encyclopaedic knowledge of salmon fishing. Each year at Christmas we would receive one of Peter’s whole smoked salmon from the Tay!

I kept in touch with Peter following his move to Edinburgh where, despite failing health in the past few years, he was always keen to know what was happening to research into M.E.

We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Peter. He will be sadly missed and I will be attending his funeral on Friday 13th September in Edinburgh on behalf of the ME Association.

Images taken from BBC Alba documentary: The Toxic Tiredness Part 2.


Obituary

BEHAN Professor Peter Oliver Professor Emeritus of Neurology, MD DSc FACP FRCP FLS, University of Glasgow Died peacefully at home, in Edinburgh on 31st August 2019, aged 84. Husband of the late Professor Wilhelmina Behan. Loving father to Charlotte, Miles and Edmund and devoted grandfather. Very dear friend to Dr Valerie Cairns. A service will be held at Warriston Crematorium, Lorimer Chapel, Edinburgh on Friday, 13th September at 1pm, to which all are welcome. Family flowers only. The Herald

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