O.S Ogah1, S.O Ajayi2, M.F Okeke3, A. Ogunniyi4

  1. Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan/University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  2. Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan/University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  3. 5th Year Clinical Student, Alexander Brown Hall, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
  4. Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.


The paper chronicles the life and times of Professor Alexander Brown, the Foundation Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Ibadan. The official opening of the University College Ibadan, Nigeria on 20 November 1957 as well as the graduation of the first set of clinical students in 1960 were glorious moments for Alexander Brown who laboured for 12years to witness these. He was also instrumental to the creation of the Department of Paediatrics (1962), Department of Radiology (1963) and the Medical Illustration unit of the hospital. Paediatrics and Radiology were initially units in the Department of Medicine. He played significant role in the development of postgraduate programmes in Cardiology, neuropsychiatry and nephrology units of the hospital and substantial role in the development of nursing education in the hospital. He was the brain behind the famous Ibarapa Community Health Project.

Keywords: Alexander Brown, Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria


Dr. O. S Ogah

Department of Medicine,
University of Ibadan/
University College Hospital,
Ibadan, Nigeria.
Date of Acceptance: 31st Dec., 2022


This paper is the first in the series that is aimed at highlighting the beginnings of clinical medicine (Internal Medicine) in Ibadan, Nigeria. It is intended to chronicle the life and times of early Physicians that helped to give a solid foundation and shape the Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan/University College Hospital, Ibadan. This first paper will focus on Professor Alexander Brown, the first incumbent of the chair of Medicine at the University.1

His Birth and Family
Alexander Brown was born on the 9th of August 1910 at Falkirk, Scotland. 2 His parents were William Brown (a clock maker) and Jessie Jane Lewars. He married Helga Marie Elizabeth, daughter of Eimund Berg, a schoolmaster, and they had two children, a son William (who is also a doctor) and a daughter, Elissa.3,4

He had his early education at Falkirk high school and his medical education was at the University of Edinburgh from where he graduated M.B; Ch.B. with honours in 1933 at the age of 22. Being the most outstanding undergraduate of his year, he was awarded the Ettles scholarship and the Leslie Gold Medal.3-5 He later held house appointments at the Royal Hospital for sick children, the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh and Glasgow Royal Maternity and women’s hospital. He lectured briefly in physiology at the University of Edinburgh.3,4

In 1937, Dr Brown obtained the membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (MRCP.Ed) and was a clinical tutor and thereafter an associate physician in the wards of Sir Derrick Dunlop at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. In 1963 he obtained the MRCP. He was elected FRCP (Edinburgh) and FRCP (London) in 1943 and 1968 respectively.3,4

His Military Careers
Between 1946 and 1947, Dr Brown served as a specialist physician (a Major) in the Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C) during the second world war in Sierra Leone with the Royal West African Frontier Force. During this time, he became acquainted with West Africa.3,4

Appointment to Chair of Medicine in Ibadan
In 1946, the British Colonial Government had set up the Asquith Commission to look into the possibility of providing higher education in the colonies. The Elliot Commission specifically directed its attention to anglophone countries in West Africa which led to the establishment of University College, Ibadan and, as part of this, the Faculty of Medicine. The first Principal of the College – Dr Kenneth Mellanby arrived in 1947 and College commenced academic activities in 1948.6 The return of Dr Brown to civilian life coincided with the establishment of the University College. He was appointed to the foundation chair of medicine. Thus, Professor Alexander Brown, his wife and two children arrived Nigeria in late 1948. He stayed briefly at the Yaba School of Medicine. He soon left for Ibadan when the then Yaba Medical School was transferred to Ibadan; first at Adeoyo General hospital for 9-years before University College Hospital was completed in 1957. Figure 2 shows Alexander Brown and other teachers with their students at the Yaba Medical School in 1948.

Brown committed himself to the task of producing a university of internationally accepted standards under conditions of some difficulty and at the far end of long and often uncertain supply lines. At the beginning only pre-clinical training could be undertaken in Ibadan. Prof. Brown and his colleagues had to go United Kingdom to negotiate for clinical placement for the early medical students until a befitting teaching hospital was built at Ibadan. The Nigerian government voted 3.5million pounds for a 500-bed hospital. Work on the University College Hospital started in October 1953. First clinical students fully trained in Ibadan were admitted in 1957 and graduated in 1960. This was a glorious moment for Alexander Brown who laboured for 12years to witness it.