John Swanson BeckBMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39183.554155.BE (Published 19 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:857
- John P Arbuthnott
John Swanson Beck, himself the son of a doctor, was an outstanding medical student at Glasgow University. Graduating in 1953, he gained the much prized Brunton Medal, which is awarded to the outstanding medical graduate of the year. The medical world was his oyster, and he could have chosen any specialty, but he very quickly decided to pursue his career in pathology, where his early promise flowered and he became one of a small group of outstanding Scottish medical scientists committed to taking pathology in a new direction. He set himself to move the emphasis from morbid anatomy towards an understanding of living systems and diagnosis and treatment of disease.
His pioneering studies were in immunology in which he established the importance of antibodies directed against the body's own tissues. This was a new area and helped to open up …