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Prof. Margaret Fairlie


1891 - 1963

Medical scientist and Scotland's first female professor. Born and raised at West Balmirmer in Angus, the daughter of a farmer, she trained in medicine at the University of St. Andrews School of Medicine and University College, Dundee. She worked in Dundee, Perth, Edinburgh and Manchester before returning to Dundee in 1919 where she taught at Dundee's Medical School and occupied a clinical post at Dundee Royal Infirmary, rising to become consultant gynaecologist and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1936. Fairlie was an inspirational teacher who visited the Marie Curie Foundation in Paris in 1926, which led to her pioneering the use of radium in the treatment of malignant gynaecological diseases in Scotland. Delayed by politics and sexism within the universities in Dundee and St. Andrews, she eventually became the first woman to hold a professorship in a Scottish university when appointed to the Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1940, which she held until 1956.

She was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1955 and was awarded on honorary degree by the University of St. Andrews in 1957.

Fairlie never married. She retired to St. Andrews but died in Dundee Royal Infirmary having taken ill while on holiday in Italy. She is remembered by a plaque by the gates of the former Dundee Royal Infirmary, which forms part of Dundee Women's Trail, and on Discovery Walk in Slessor Gardens on Dundee's Waterfront.


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