James S. Scott, MD

James Steel Scott


James Steel Scott died September 17, 2006 at the age of 82 from metastatic prostate cancer. He was born in a medical family in Glasgow, April 18, 1924.  After attending Glasgow Academy and Glasgow University he served two years in West Africa for the National Service Royal Army Medical Corps.  Professor Scott received training in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Dublin (Rotunda), London (Queen Charlotte’s Hospital) and Birmingham (Hammersmith), before serving as a lecturer and senior lecturer in Liverpool, under his mentor, Sir Norman Thomas Jeffcoate.  Many consider him the “father of clinical reproductive immunology”.  Dr. Scott’s research involved the formation of amniotic fluid and the relationship of lack of fluid with the absence of fetal kidneys.  His research in placental anomalies led to an MD with commendation.  Dr. Scott worked closely with Sir Cyril Clarke of the Department of Medicine in Liverpool.  Their research contributed to unraveling the cause of maternal immunization to the Rhesus factor and the means to prevent it.  Scott and colleagues received the Lasker award for their work on rhesus disease. Scott also described that the transient forms of some adult diseases were the result of transplacental passage of maternal antibodies.

At the age of 37 Scott was appointed as Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Leeds in 1961.  He also served as Dean of Faculty from 1986 to 1989.   Collaborating with his wife, Olive Sharpe, a pediatric cardiologist, they demonstrated that the transplacental passage of the anti-Ro antibody could cause a fetal heart block.  As a Professor at Leeds for three decades he conducted original research in the etiology of preeclampsia and eclampsia.  Scott made a number of unique observations related to the potential immunologic aspects of preeclampsia.  Scott also conducted research in women with repetitive miscarriages. 

He never played golf, but despise of the sport did not inhibit him from devoting years to researching the life of Dr Alister MacKenzie, a Leeds medical graduate famous for designing golf courses. Scott’s passions included skiing, sailing, opera, 20th century Irish literature, arts, and his house on the coast of north-west of Scotland. He is survived by his a wife, Olive, and two sons, Alistair and Malcolm.

Submitted by Larry J. Copeland, MD

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