Dr Ian Simpson was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, where he was educated at Newcastle Boys High School and the University of Sydney, graduating in Medicine in 1942. He completed his residency at Sydney Hospital in 1942 before joining the Australian Imperial Force (the volunteer personnel of the Australian Army in World War II) and serving from 1943 to 1946.
He had a taste of psychiatry as an Army Medical Officer and, following the war, decided to join the psychiatric section of the Repatriation Department in New South Wales before achieving his psychiatry specialty qualification at the University of Sydney in 1949. In 1956 he entered private practice. Dr Simpson was a Consultant Psychiatrist to the Army and obtained an honorary appointment at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as well as finding time to serve on the Mental Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council from 1966-1969.
In 1969 he moved from Sydney to Adelaide where he became a Visiting Specialist in Psychiatry to the Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park, and to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was passionate about training, being one of the original College members of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry in 1964, and later closely involved with the South Australian educational program for Trainee Psychiatrists.
Dr Simpson gave a great deal of his time, energy and interest to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. A Foundation Fellow of the College in 1963 and previously a member of Australasian Association of Psychiatrists (AAP), he was part of the crucial subcommittee of AAP which sought ‘to draw up a memorandum and articles of Association under Companies Act’ to form the College.
In 1979 the College established The Ian Simpson Award in his honour to recognise the most outstanding contributions to clinical psychiatry as assessed through service to patients and to the community.