International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Gordon Ellard

    Status Medical Researcher
    Country United Kingdom


    Dr Gordon Ellard (1936-2002) was a British research pharmacologist known for his contributions to the development of leprosy treatments.

    In his youth, he was inspired by tales of missionaries and health workers in Africa and India, and became determined to pursue a scientific career that would take him to tropical countries. He earned a BSc in chemistry from University College, London, in 1957, and obtained his MSc in biochemistry the following year.

    Although he had trained as a biochemist, he pursued an interest in pharmacology, contacting leading leprosy researchers to learn about their work. He spent two and a half years at the East African Leprosy Research Centre at Alupe/Busia on the border of Uganda and Kenya, working under Dr John Garrod. He then returned to London to undertake a PhD at University College. For his project, ‘A biochemical study of the diphenyl thioureas used in the treatment of leprosy in man’, he was awarded a PhD in 1964.

    From 1964 until 1980, he worked in the British Medical Research Council Unit for the Laboratory Studies of Tuberculosis at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, London, where he primarily worked on the pharmacology of anti-tuberculosis drugs, although leprosy remained a major interest of his.

    In 1970, Ellard visited India as an adviser in tuberculosis to the WHO. From 1971-1982, he was on the editorial board of Leprosy Review, and in 1973, he was on the LEPRA Medical Advisory Board. In 1974, he was monitoring the self-administration of dapsone (Ellard and Gammon and Harris) of patients attending clinics at Malawi. In 1977, he acted as rapporteur for THELEP (Therapy of Leprosy) Scientific Working Group of WHO, and in 1978 with Colston, Hilson, Gammon, and Rees, he was searching for companion drugs for multi drug therapy. In 1979, at the 11th ILA Congress Workshop, Rees, Ellard, Ambrose, Colston, Levy, Morrison, Pattyn, Pearson, Peters, and Shepard were calling for a search for combined drugs and for trials.

    Ellard moved to the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill in 1980, where he worked with Dr Richard J.W. Rees.

    His work had an enormous influence on the WHO’s development of multidrug therapy (MDT) for the treatment of leprosy. He was a member of the WHO Study Group on Chemotherapy of Leprosy for Control Programmes in 1981.

    In 1980-1993, he served as Scientific Officer at NIMR and temporary adviser to WHO on the implementation and evaluation of MDT (New Delhi), and in 1996, he was WHO Coordinator on a rifampicin bioavailability project. His publications include over 100 articles in medical and scientific journals published between 1959 and 2001. He died in 2002.


    McDougall, A. Colin. "Obituary: Gordon A. Ellard: 1936-2002." Leprosy Review 73 (2002): 389-91.


    Please contact us via the website for a list of publications.


    Itesio   Gordon Ellard was biochemist at Itesio 1958-1961. (Information supplied by LEPRA)
    Alupe   Gordon Ellard was biochemist at Alupe during 1959. (Information supplied by LEPRA)
    Ryan, Prof Terence - Personal Collection  

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