THE Medical Officer of Health for the city of Glasgow was
born and schooled at Greenock, and served a full apprenticeship to a legal firm
in that town. On the completion of that indenture he began the study of medicine
at Glasgow University, where he twice took the Hunter Medal in Anatomy, and
graduated M.B., C.M. "with high commendation" in 1879. Thereafter he entered the
service of the Corporation and successively held the appointments of Resident
Assistant Physician at Belvidere Fever Hospital, and Physician Superintendent of
the Fever Hospital at Knightswood. Migrating to Mossend, he held, from 1885 till
1892, the position of surgeon to the Summerlee and Mossend Iron and Steel
Company, and engaged at the same time in general practice. In 1887 he submitted
his thesis on "The Pyrexia of the Specific Fevers," and received the degree of
M.D. "with commendation." Two years later he studied Public Health at Cambridge
University, and received the diploma. In 1891 the great extension of the
boundaries of Glasgow took place, and Dr. Chalmers was appointed colleague to
Dr. Russell as Medical Officer of Public Health for the city; and on Dr.
Russell's removal to Edinburgh, Dr. Chalmers succeeded to his post.
In connection with his work as Medical Officer Dr. Chalmers compiled a "New Life Table for Glasgow, based on the Mortality of the Ten Years 1881-1890," and among his other contributions to questions regarding public health may be noted a paper on "The Distribution of Tuberculous Disease in Glasgow, with Observations on the Relation of Phthisis to Room Density," 1897, and on "The Death Rate in One Apartment Houses" (Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 1902). But the circumstance which brought him into most exciting note was the appearance of the Bubonic Plague in the city in 1900. The prompt and effectual measures which he took to stamp out the dreaded epidemic attracted universal admiration, stopped public panic, and drew from the President of the Local Government Board the very unusual compliment of a public letter of thanks. This was addressed to the Lord Provost, and engrossed in the Corporation minutes. In 1907 he was one of a Commission of five appointed by the Local Government Board for Ireland to inquire into the health of Belfast.
Dr. Chalmers is a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Medical Officers of Health, Past President of the Society of Medical Officers of Health for Scotland, of the Sanitary Association of Scotland (1898-9), and of the Sanitary and Social Economy Section of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow; and he is a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, and of the Royal Sanitary Institute. He is the author of a large number of papers on health and medical subjects contributed to the leading professional journals - Lancet, Sanitary Journal, Glasgow Medical Journal, etc., and he has been an earnest advocate for the establishment of Public Health Laboratories in which the problems of his special branch of the profession may be worked out.
Outside his professional interests Dr. Chalmers, was for six years a member of Bothwell Parish School Board, and is a Governor of Anderson's College Medical School, and a Director of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Two years ago he edited the memorial volume of writings of the late Dr. Russell, his predecessor in the post of Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)