International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Prof Terence Ryan

    Status Medical Researcher
    Country United Kingdom


    Professor Terence Ryan is a Professor of Dermatology at Oxford University and has been Vice Warden of one of its colleges. He was at one time Chairman of the Faculty of Medicine and of its Board for Oxford University. He is also a Professor of Dermatology at Oxford Brookes University where he collaborates with the Nursing Profession. He has been President of the Section of Dermatology at the Royal Society of Medicine, President of the National Dermatology Society, known as the Dowling Club, and President of the British Association of Dermatology and an awardee of its Gold medal. Internationally he has been President of the International Society of Dermatology, Chairman of the International Foundation for Dermatology and a member of the International Committee of Dermatology. The International Foundation for Dermatology concerns taking skin care into the General Health Services of the Developing World and its flagship is a pan African training centre in Tanzania of which Terence Ryan has been a Principal fundraiser and member of its Advisory Board since 1992. Besides Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases it has a role to play in the fields of leprosy and lymphatic filariasis. Professor Ryan was a member of the WHO panel on leprosy and is an Adviser to the WHO/Global Alliance for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis. He is a member of the Board of LEPRA and Adviser to the St Francis Leprosy Guild. The IFD projects which he has set up in Guatemala and Mali are further examples of the attempt to take skin care into the Developing World based on Health Centres.

    Born in 1932, Terence Ryan’s education was severely disrupted by the war. However, he was admitted to Worcester College, Oxford, despite having no scientific background, and was subsequently 'possibly the best in the country'. His interest in blood vessels began as a student when, in the presence of an Oxford Professor of Medicine, and Professor Jan Waldenstrom from Norway, he demonstrated his knowledge of Norwegian publications on cryoglobulinaemia and was encouraged to pursue this interest. His first employment was concerned with high blood pressure as a Junior Doctor with the Regius Professor of Medicine Sir George Pickering. Shortly after this he had to complete compulsory National Service in the Army and was placed as the Head of an Ear, Nose and Throat service as well as a Dermatology service at the main hospital where the evacuation of sick soldiers from the British Army of the Rhine was usually centred. While in training as a Dermatology Registrar in Oxford using Ear, Nose and Throat equipment, Terence Ryan found that the visibility and filling of capillaries in the upper dermis could be increased by pushing away tissue fluid. This led to many capillary microscopic studies of the skin and an invitation to join a newly formed British Microcirculation Society.

    At a British Association of Dermatology meeting in Oxford, he organised a seminar on Blood Supply and a demonstration of capillary microscopy. An invitation with funding followed to set up a vascular laboratory in London at the Institute of Dermatology. Studies of blood viscosity, platelets, vasculitis and haemangiomas followed. The year 1968 saw his marriage in Australia and on the way there, a visit to Vascular Laboratories in the USA. On arrival in Australia, he visited Dintenfass and Palmer to examine their studies of blood viscosity. On his return as part of his honeymoon he presided in Singapore over a series of lectures on the Blood Vascular System, with subsequent lectures in Calcutta, Delhi, Warsaw and Prague, as the Russians entered the city, and joining eventually the European Microcirculation Congress in Gothenburg. It was at the latter that it seemed important to adopt the technique of fibrinolysis autography. On return to his vascular laboratory in London he led a team including Robert Turner, Amal Kurban, Kyoshi Nishioka and began to study endothelial epithelial relationships and the control of fibrinolysis. On return to Oxford interest in Vasculitis became his principal theme with various publications including the subject of his postgraduate Doctor of Medicine degree 'microvascular injury'. He became Treasurer of the European Society of Microcirculation, Editor of the proceedings of the British Microcirculation Society and eventually President of the British Microcirculation Society, the European Microcirculation Society and of the World Congress of Microcirculation held in Oxford in 1984.

    Following this for some ten years, he was Chairman of a liaison committee for all Microcirculation Societies. An interest in lymphatics with research stimulated by the work previously done in Oxford by Howard Florey and Gwenda Barer, he began with a major review published in 1976, followed by the setting up of the British Lymphology Interest Group. As co-editor of the International Journal of Lymphology and Co-author of early consensus management guidelines on lymphoedema he became an officer of the International Society of Lymphology. The development of a Leg Ulcer Clinic for the study of blood supply in wound healing led to collaboration with George Cherry on the study of wound dressings and their effect on blood supply, the setting up of an annual course on wound healing for young Europeans, the development of wound healing as a discipline soon followed. The first meeting of the European Tissue Repair Society was in Oxford and Terence Ryan was its second President. He received a Gold medal from the society at their meeting in Pavia, he was a recipient of the Nishimaru Award of the Japanese Microcirculation Society and his appointment as Honorary President of the Chinese Microcirculation Society in Beijing was in 1986. The principle focus of his research has been on the role of mechanical forces in the development of skin blood supply and the control of the water content in the upper dermis with Mikio Masuzawa, Yasu Horiuchi, Hiroshi Kakinuma and Raymond Barnhill.

    A series of publications followed in the field of Vascular Research reaching a total of some five hundred publications in all. In recent years, while remaining an Adviser to the Wound Healing Institute in the Department of Dermatology, he has continued to develop his interest in the lymphatics. Through a Chairmanship of the International Foundation for Dermatology he has increasingly concentrated on the problems of the Developing World and hence has developed an interest in the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis to which he is an Adviser on morbidity control. He has become a world traveller and is a member of Advisory Counsels to many organisations scattered around the world.

    Entry made 10 November 2003


    Mortimer PS; Young CMA; Jones RL; Singh G & Ryan TJ. “Morphological lymphatic studies in normal human skin, psoriasis and leprosy: Relationship of initial lymphatics with elastin and injected colloidal carbon.” International Journal of Microcirculation: Clinical & Experimental 3 (1984): 458.

    Ryan TJ. “Lymphatics in leprosy: relationship to elastic fibres and observations following intra-lesional injections of colloidal carbon.” Leprosy Review (2002) (in press).

    Jones RL & Ryan TJ. “Demonstration of leprosy bacilli in the eyes of experimentally infected armadillos: a comparison of five melanin bleaching methods.” Medical Laboratory Sciences 43 (1986): 211-4.

    Ryan TJ. “Editorial: Dermatology - global planning in relation to leprosy management.” Leprosy Review 61 (1990):209-12.

    Ryan TJ. “Traditional Systems of Health C 101” (abstract). 15th International Leprosy Congress 1998. International Journal of Leprosy 66.4 (1998): 57A-58A.

    Ryan TJ. “Leprosy.” Section 4.3. Manual of International Child Health (2001) pp. 398-399.

    Ryan TJ & McDougall AC. (eds) Essays on Leprosy. Oxford: Alden Press, 1988.

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