MB ChB Edinburgh 1923.
MacDonald, known as 'Mac', was born on 17 October 1895 in Dundee and began his academic career in Edinburgh undertaking a mathematics degree. His studies were interrupted by the war, and he served in the Royal Naval Air Service. He then qualified in medicine and worked with Sir Edward Sherpey Shafer, A.V. Hill and Lapique. MacDonald was appointed to the staff of the physiology department at the University of Manchester in 1926 and, as he had engaged in research into the action of drugs (especially digitalis) was made reader in pharmacology in 1928. He was soon responsible for the growing subject of pharmacology at the University.
In 1935, MacDonald was appointed Leech Professor of Pharmacology, Materia Medica and Therapeutics, holding this position until his retirement in 1964. He was also secretary to the faculty and was dean of the medical school from 1938 to 1943. In 1943, under the aegis of the MRC, MacDonald visited USA to correlate research work. In later years, MacDonald's main research interest was in analgesia. MacDonald was one of the founder members of the British Pharmacology Society and was a member of its council for twelve years, he was on a number of committees and contributed to a report of the WHO on drug addiction. Macdonald died on 21 May 1978.