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Ralph Ross Russell

Like many other talented Scots, Ralph Ross Russell migrated south to England after completing his schooling in Scotland. He went to university at Cambridge, medical school at St Thomas'Hospital, and then did National Service in Malaysia with the Royal Army Medical Corps. It cannot have been very common for people of Ralph's generation who had to do National Service to put the experience to serious academic use. However, he did, and his first paper was on Torula meningitis, and his MD thesis was based on his RAMC experience of leptospirosis. But, his first proper academic appointment was as lecturer in medicine at Oxford University. There, his lifetime research interest in cerebrovascular disease was kindled by Sir George Pickering, Regius Professor of Medicine. He developed an animal model of thromboembolism, observed emboli passing through the cortical arteries of rabbits, and it was this model which was later used to explore the antiplatelet properties of drugs like dipyridamole. He then moved to London as a registrar in neurology at Queen Square, but within six months he became a consultant physician at St Thomas' Hospital, the National Hospital Queen Square, and also at Moorfields Eye Hospital where he remained until his retirement in 1993. Here he developed not just his clinical expertise in cerebrovascular disease, but also his research, and later neuro-ophthalmology as well. It seems extraordinary nowadays to think that people like Ralph Ross Russell were able to pursue an internationally recognised research career, and yet have no formal academic sessions, being a more or less full time NHS consultant. He made major contributions to our knowledge about stroke at a time when - apart from his colleagues John Marshall and Michael Harrison - there was almost no interest amongst UK neurologists in the subject. I think his most memorable papers were on how high blood pressure causes stroke, published in the Lancet, with Iain Wilkinson about the distribution of the pathology of giant cell arteritis, with the cerebral blood flow team at Queen Square where it was his idea to look at cerebral blood flow in polycythaemia, and his several contributions on transient monocular blindness, and low blood flow to the retina.

Ralph has always been a great supporter of the ABN, and of course he served as President before his retirement. He has now moved back to his native Scotland where he can be closer to golf, family and farming, and it is a great pleasure to have him occasionally join our neurological meetings in Edinburgh. So on behalf of us all Ralph, I would like to ask you to present your talk "My life with the carotid artery".

CP Warlow 7 April 2000

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