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Biographical entry Ross, James Cosbie (1904 - 1989)

MRCS 1925; FRCS 1930; MB ChB Liverpool 1925; ChM 1931; LRCP 1925.

17 May 1904
15 September 1989
General surgeon and Urological surgeon


James Cosbie Ross was born in Liverpool on 17 May 1904. He was the son and grandson of doctors, his father being James Ross, a general practitioner in Walton, Liverpool. His mother was Delia Cosbie and James, as the eldest child, took the name of Cosbie. James used this name and linked Ross as 'Cobbie Ross'. He was educated at Liverpool University Medical School. All his life, pre- and postgraduate was spent in Liverpool. He qualified MB, ChB in 1925 with honours and distinction in medicine, passed the MRCS, LRCP the same year, gained the Fellowship in 1930, and the Liverpool ChM in 1931.

Cosbie Ross was appointed to the staff of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary in 1932 as a general surgeon. He continued at this hospital until 1945 when on the appointment of Charles Wells as Professor, he was transferred to the Royal Southern Hospital as a senior. He was particularly influenced in his training by Sir Robert Kelly. He showed a progressive interest in urology and in 1943 gave a Hunterian Lecture entitled 'Injuries of the urinary bladder'. At the Royal Southern Hospital he founded a urological unit, one of the first such units in the north west of England. Here he worked on tuberculosis of the renal tract and on urological problems association with spinal injury. He wrote many papers on genitourinary tuberculosis and contributed urological chapters in several textbooks. He wrote a textbook himself Essentials of surgery for dental students and he was the lecturer in surgery to the Liverpool School of Dental Surgery for many years. Maybe he will find a place in the Guinness book of records as he wrote no less than seventy-nine articles on urological subjects and some twenty-four on the neurological bladder. Ross indeed did pioneer work in relation to the urological problems of spinal cord injury. He became assistant editor of the journal Paraplegia, edited by Sir Ludwig Guttman, 'father' of the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville. He was appointed director of urological studies at Liverpool University where he was also Chairman of faculty.

He was an external examiner to the University of Manchester. He was made an honorary member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and became President of the Moynihan Chirurgical Club.

His interests included shooting, fishing, walking (including long distances on Hadrian's Wall and the Pennine Way), sailing and collecting early English watercolours. He acted as honorary appeals director for the final phase of the building of the Anglican Cathedral at Liverpool. His last book was in conjunction, with his brother - A gifted touch - a biography of Agnes Jones, the friend and collaborator of Florence Nightingale.

He married Muriel Orton in 1934, having one son, Andrew, and one daughter, Lindy. His wife died in 1963. His son, who also qualified at Liverpool, is a gynaecologist at Middlesbrough. A few months before he died he was awarded the 1989 medal of the International Medical Society for Paraplegia, of which he was a foundation member. He died on 15 September 1989 having developed a paraplegia from secondary malignant disease in the spine, the primary being prostatic.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 30 September 1989; Brit med J 1989, 299, 1096 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England