Alexander MacAra

Sir Sandy MacAra

Alexander Wiseman MacAra

(1932-05-04)4 May 1932
Died21 June 2012(2012-06-21) (aged 80)
Alma materLondon School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Scientific career
InstitutionsBristol University
British Medical Association (BMA)

Alexander Wiseman MacAra, FRCP FRCGP[1] (4 May 1932 – 21 June 2012) was a Scottish professor of epidemiology at Bristol University and chairman of British Medical Association (BMA) from 1993 to 1998.[2][3]

Early life

Alexander Wiseman MacAra was born on 4 May 1932 in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland.[4] Both his father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers.[5] Marion, his mother, was a civil servant. When he was six years old, MacAra was treated for paratyphoid fever, acute appendicitis and whooping cough.[4] Growing up he witnessed the public health effects of the slums in Glasgow as well as the health problems of the dockers and miners.[6]

He was educated at Irvine Royal Academy.[5] He studied at the Glasgow Medical School, Glasgow University, graduating with a medical degree in 1958.[7] He went on to gain a DPH from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1960.[7]

Early career

  • 1963 – 1997 Lecturer in Public Health, and later Consultant Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Bristol University[4]
  • 1960s Founding member and subsequently Head of Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Bristol University[4]


From 1993 to 1998 MacAra was the chair of the ruling council of British Medical Association (BMA). He was consultant to the World Health Organisation (for over 20 years ), and he was president of the National Heart Forum.[4] He was a member of the Council of the General Medical Council (GMC)


He played a key role in smoking ban in public places which was introduced in 2007. In 2009 he called for the MMR vaccine to be made compulsory following an unfounded health scare which resulted in a fall in the take up rate of the vaccine within the UK.[4]


He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP).[4] In 1992 he received an honorary degree- Honorary Doctor of Public Health, Athens. [7] He was created a Knight Bachelor in the 1998 Birthday Honours for services to the medical profession.[8]

Personal life

MacAra was married to Sylvia and they had two children, a daughter, Alexandra, and a son, James.[9] He died on 21 June 2012.[9]



  1. ^ "Sir Alexander Wiseman Macara". RCPLondon. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  2. ^ Davies, Peter (9 July 2012). "Obituary – Alexander MacAra". British Medical Journal. 345: e4644. doi:10.1136/bmj.e4644.
  3. ^ O'Sullivan, Jack (10 July 1994). "Profile: Scalpel to blunt an axe: Dr Sandy MacAra: He is leading the BMA out of the sickroom. But where to?". The Independent. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Obituary (28 June 2012). "Sir Sandy MacAra". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Sir Sandy Macara obituary". The Guardian. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Alexander Wiseman MacAra (1932–), Epidemiologist and teacher of medicine (portrait by Nick Sinclair)". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d "Obituaries – Sir Sandy (Alexander Wiseman) Macara, FRCP Edin". Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE). Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours 1998". The Independent. 13 June 1998. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Former BMA chairman Sir Sandy Macara dies". BBC News (Bristol). 25 June 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2014.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Jeremy Lee-Potter
Chairman of the British Medical Association
Succeeded by
Ian Bogle

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