Robert E. Scully, MD, a giant in the field of pathology and a beloved member of the MGH family for more than 55 years, died Oct. 30 at the age of 91. Scully will be remembered as a compassionate and caring man whose dedication to his profession changed the lives of countless colleagues and patients.
“He was quiet but firm, honest, careful, considerate and happy to give credit to others. As such, he was a beloved figure in the field of pathology worldwide,” says David L. Louis, MD, pathologist-in-chief.
Scully joined the staff of the MGH Department of Pathology in 1950 and became known globally as an authority in gynecologic and testicular pathology. He authored more than 480 scientific papers and described many previously unrecognized entities. Scully’s textbook on the ovary is considered the standard reference work on the subject, and the current classification of gynecologic tumors derives largely from his work.
“He had all the qualities one would wish for in a mentor – a remarkable fund of knowledge to pass on, the patience to pass it on and consideration when his trainees did not live up to his remarkably high standards,” says longtime colleague and MGH pathologist Robert H. Young, MD, who also is the Robert E. Scully Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School (HMS).“His diagnostic prowess in the department and far beyond is the stuff of legend. Because of his own countless astute diagnoses, he has benefitted the care of thousands of individuals, and by improving knowledge with numerous publications, he has placed the field of pathology – particularly gynecologic pathology – on a footing immeasurably stronger than before he entered the field.”
Scully graduated from HMS and later became a professor of Pathology there. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict and was stationed at the 406th Medical General Laboratory in Tokyo. Earlier this year, Scully became the first pathologist to be honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Medical Society, given to a society member who has made lasting contributions to the practice of medicine over his or her lifetime. It is one of several awards and honors Scully received during his career.
One of his most treasured professional accomplishments was serving for 27 years as editor of the Case Records, or CPCs, of the MGH in The New England Journal of Medicine. MGH pathologist Nancy Harris, MD, Case Records editor since 2002, says she is honored to follow in the footsteps of such a brilliant pathologist. “The experience of being editor has given me tremendous respect for the breadth and depth of Dr. Scully’s medical knowledge, his impeccable judgment in selecting appropriate cases and discussants, and his meticulous attention to detail in the editing process,” Harris says.
Funeral services were held Nov. 6.
Read more articles from the 11/9/12 Hotline issue.