Presidential Medal - 2018

Photo of Diarmuid O'Shea, Morgan Crowe and Shaun O'Keeffe

Dr Morgan Crowe: IGS Presidential Medal Recipient 2018

Dr Morgan Crowe is a native of Dublin.  He attended Blackrock College in Dublin where he played schools rugby.  His medical education was in University College Dublin and St Vincent’s Hospital and he qualified in 1974.  After his house jobs in St Vincent’s Hospital, his initial Senior House jobs were in Crumlin children’s hospital and the Coombe where he attained diplomas in child health and obstetrics.  

His initial exposure to geriatric medicine was as Senior House Physician in 1978 to his later friend and colleague Denis Keating in St Vincent’s Hospital.  In 1979, a year working as Registrar in Geriatric Medicine for Jacques Noel and John Lavan in James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin cemented his growing interest in Geriatric Medicine.  

In 1981, Morgan moved to the UK to work in John Radcliffe Hospital & Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford where he extended his training in general medicine and in geriatric medicine.  He was fortunate to work in an extremely vibrant department with many major figures. These included the Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine, David - later Sir David - Weatherall, a world authority on the clinical and molecular basis of the thalassemias and John Ledingham, an expert on electrolyte disturbances.  Weatherall and Ledingham were the first editors of the renowned Oxford Textbook of Medicine. 

In geriatric medicine, Morgan worked with Leo Wollner who was one of the architects of modern geriatric medicine, building on the foundation prepared by some of the early pioneers with whom he had worked, including Lionel Cosin.  (Cosin, although a trained surgeon, had been one of the eight founder members of the British Geriatrics Society and opened the first Day Hospital for the Elderly in Oxford in 1957.

With Ledingham and Wollner, Morgan was an author in 1984 of a seminal NEJM paper, since cited almost a thousand times.  This study showed clearly for the first time that there is a deficit in thirst, and hence in water intake, in healthy older people compared with younger people after water deprivation, thereby explaining the greater propensity to dehydration among older people. With Archie Young, later professor of geriatric medicine in Edinburgh and Maria Stokes, now in the University of Southampton, Morgan published two other recognized citation classics showing the relationship between quadriceps size and strength in older people.

In 1984, Morgan returned to Ireland as Consultant Physician in Naas General Hospital in Kildare where, as well as having a heavy on-call general commitment, he instigated a geriatric service.  In 1987, he returned to St Vincent’s Hospital, rejoining Denis Keating as Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine but with a joint appointment to St. Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown.  Theirs’s was a happy, collegial and productive partnership.  It was almost 10 years before Shaun O’Keeffe, followed quickly by Diarmuid O’Shea, arrived to share the burden.

Given that the Department of Geriatric Medicine in South East Dublin now has ten consultants, it is staggering to reflect on the heavy workload carried by Morgan on multiple sites.  As well as participating in the on-call service and providing an inpatient and consultation geriatric service on both sites, Morgan also had rehabilitation patients in the Royal Hospital in Donnybrook, in Wicklow District Hospital, where Nora Fitzpatrick was the formidable Matron, and in St Colman’s Hospital in Rathdrum, where Jim Leitch was Medical Officer. In addition, there were major UCD undergraduate and SHO/Registrar postgraduate teaching and training responsibilities

Despite the clinical demands, Morgan with Denis worked assiduously to develop and promote geriatric services in South Dublin and Wicklow.  This included the opening of the on-campus Carew House Day Hospital in 1997 offering comprehensive geriatric assessment to frail, older people in the community.

It is difficult now, given the successes of the Stroke programme in recent years, to recall how poorly organised stroke care was only a few years ago.  Morgan, in collaboration with colleagues such as Zachery Johnson, Mark Delargy and Imelda Noone, was to the forefront in changing that with innovations such as a regional stroke registry, carful assessment of outcomes and improved pathways towards rehabilitation and with a series of high-quality publications on these topics.

Morgan also carried his full load of administrative roles including acting as secretary to the Irish Gerontological Society and representing Irish Society of Physicians in Geriatric Medicine as a member of the Stroke Council of the Irish Heart Foundation.  He was also an active and effective Convenor of the Diploma in Medicine for the Elderly Examination (DME) on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians from 2000-2006.

Although officially retired since June 2016, Morgan continues to lend a hand in the Royal Hospital in Donnybrook as well as pursuing his interests in rugby, golf and playing the piano.  He has, as always, had the benefit and support of Bernadette and their children.  

Morgan Crowe’s career has been characterized by energy, hard work and determination.  He is good natured, good humoured and kind and has been a wonderful colleague and role model.  He has provided enormous service to the development of specialist services for older people locally and nationally and to our specialty and this is fittingly acknowledged by the IGS President’s Medal in 2018.