James Burn Russell

Biography of James Burn Russell

James Burn Russell
James Burn Russell

James Burn Russell graduated from the University of Glasgow BA in 1858, MDCM in 1862 and LLD in 1885. He is considered to be one of the top pioneers in in public health, reforming the way infectious disease was managed and prevented in Glasgow.

Russell was born in Rutherglen, Glasgow, 1837. He received his early education at the High School of Glasgow. After completing his Arts degree at the University of Glasgow in 1858, he acted as assistant to his former teacher Lord Kelvin. Russell assisted Kelvin with laying the first Atlantic cable. He then moved from electrical engineering to the study of medicine, graduating from the University of Glasgow MDCM in 1862.

After completing his studies, Russell worked as a Resident Assistant at the fever wards of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, gaining experience in the treatment of infectious disease. During the typhoid outbreak of 1864-1865, Russell was appointed as Physician superintendent of Glasgow’s first fever hospital. He was later made the 1872 Medical Officer of Health in Scotland, developing sanitation and hygiene policies which greatly reduced Glasgow’s death rate. Reforms developed by Russell included the compulsory notification of infectious diseases, as well increased nurses training. In 1898 he was chosen to be the Medical Member of the Local Government Board for Scotland. He passed away in 1904.


James Burn Russell
University Link: Graduate
GU Degrees: BA, 1858; MD CM, 1862; LLD, 1885;
Record last updated: 15th May 2017

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