James (“Jake”) Knox Russell

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 22 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:643
  1. Derek Tacchi

    James Knox Russell (“Jake” as he was always known) was a former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology who introduced a new medical curriculum that was widely adopted.

    In 1958 Jake Russell was appointed the first full time professor in obstetrics and gynaecology in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne to join those already appointed in medicine, surgery, and paediatrics, a post-war policy to replace part-time clinicians who had previously been appointed. He was a good and kind clinician, an astute politician, and a superb undergraduate teacher who promoted and awarded the promise of those he considered worthy. His department was a very happy one.

    His early life was in Aberdeen, where he was born, schooled, and attended the university medical school, graduating MB ChB in 1942. There he met a fellow student Cecelia (“Wendy”) Valentine Urquart—they were married in King's College Chapel, Aberdeen, in 1944. Jake was at the time serving with the Royal Air Force Bomber Command based in England and then Holland. After the second world war he returned to a post of registrar to the formidable Dugald Baird, the regius professor of midwifery in Aberdeen, and he took his MRCOG in 1949.

    Baird had set up a Medical Research Council unit that worked on problems of human reproduction, physiology, and epidemiology so it was not surprising that Russell's early efforts were similarly directed. He had a particular interest in “teenage pregnancy” and he took his MD in 1954.

    In 1950 Russell moved to Newcastle as first assistant to Professor …

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