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Emeritus Professor James S Scott

James S Scott

We are very sorry to have to inform members of the death of Emeritus Professor James S Scott, formerly of the Medical School, on 17th September 2006.

James Steel Scott was born in Glasgow in 1924, where he attended first the Glasgow Academy and then Glasgow University, graduating ChB MB in 1946. After two years National Service, spent mainly in West Africa, he worked at Queen Charlottes, the Hammersmith and Birmingham, and became first a member, and then a fellow, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and, exceptionally, both the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He took up a post in Liverpool in 1954, where he rapidly scaled the academic ladder from lecturer, to senior lecturer and then honorary consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. During this time, he met and married Dr Olive Scott, a fellow doctor, who went on to build up her own distinguished career as a Paediatric Cardiologist at Killingbeck Hospital, Leeds.

The Scotts came to Leeds in 1961, when James Scott was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University and Honorary Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to the Leeds Western Health Authority at the age of just 37. Professor Scott achieved an international reputation for his research into reproductive immunology and pathological antibodies in pregnancy: by the time of his retirement from the University in 1989 he had delivered the Blair Bell memorial lecture at the Royal College of Gynaecologists (1958); received the Leith Murray Prize for Research (1959); been appointed the Sims Black Travelling Professor of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (1979); held visiting fellowships to institutions in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia; published over 170 papers in major journals and two books; travelled extensively to speak at international conferences and literally lost count of his communications at scientific meetings. Alongside his many academic achievements, James Scott always maintained an intense interest in the clinical care of each and every patient in his practice as a Consultant. Throughout his career he retained a warm affection for the Leeds Maternity Hospital, so much so that he managed to hold onto the designation LMH for his department from its move to the Clarendon Wing of the Leeds General Infirmary until his retirement its eventual removal by resolution of the University Senate coming at his own instigation out of concern that his successor should not find it confusing; a measure not only of the professionalism he brought to his work, but his concern and respect for those around him.

His record as a clinician, clinical investigator and teacher would in itself form an impressive legacy, and it would take more space than is available here to adequately catalogue his remarkable contributions in these areas. In addition, however, James Scott contributed in a major way to the wider affairs of the University. His brilliant bedside manner could be well adapted to get the best out of other situations, and many University committees and groups were steered by his firm and gentle handling; and the wry wit which could sway even the most formidable argument. Professor Scott was Chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Medicine between 1969 and 1972, and then Dean of Faculty from 1986 to 1989; managing to condense the hugely responsible role of Dean into the required part-time hours whilst steadfastly refusing to give up his headship of his department, his clinical work or his teaching. His shrewd judgement and meticulous attention to detail were of inestimable value to the faculty in both these posts. Of equal import were his less formal contributions in championing the Medical School in the governing fora of the University; in working ceaselessly to foster friendship and co-operation between University staff and their NHS colleagues, whose help in the teaching of Medical School students was so vital in its success; and as a wise, sharply perceptive, and yet sympathetic friend and adviser to all those, staff and students, who sought out his counsel, and also his company. Professor Scott initiated a Graduation Dinner, and colleagues will remember these and many other happy social occasions at which he and Dr Olive Scott were such good company. As one former Vice-Chancellor put it, he was among the best conversationalists in this University. He will be remembered with enormous respect for his unstinting hard work; his devotion to his subject, his patients and his students; but also with warm affection for his outstanding integrity, his wide-ranging interests and intellect, his natural aplomb as a raconteur, and the inspiration he provided to all those who were fortunate enough to have worked or studied alongside him.

Professor Scott is survived by his wife, Dr Olive Scott, and their two sons.