Famous Scottish Physicians

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Scottish Physicians

 1 
Alexander Fleming
(Physician and Microbiologist Who Discovered ‘Penicillin’ World’s First Broadly Effective Antibiotic Substance)

Alexander Fleming
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Darvel, East Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1955

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish microbiologist and physician. He is credited with discovering penicillin, the world's first effective antibiotic substance; a discovery that changed the course of history. He also discovered lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme which forms part of the innate immune system. In 1999, Fleming was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century list.

 2 
David Livingstone
(Physician, Explorer)

David Livingstone
5
Birthdate: March 19, 1813
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died: May 1, 1873

David Livingstone was a Scottish physician who played a major role at the London Missionary Society, where he was a pioneer Christian missionary. He is also remembered for his work as a missionary in Africa. Widely considered one of the most famous British heroes of the late Victorian era, Livingstone was mentioned in the 100 Greatest Britons list in 2002.

 3 
Robert Liston
(Surgeon)

Robert Liston
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1794
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ecclesmachan, West Lothian, Scotland
Died: December 7, 1847

Scottish surgeon Robert Liston worked in an era when anesthesia wasn’t invented. He could complete amputations within minutes, thus saving the lives of many when the speed of the surgery made the difference between life and death. Later, he became the first European surgeon to operate under anesthesia.

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 4 
R. D. Laing
(Psychiatrist)

R. D. Laing
4
Birthdate: October 7, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Govanhill
Died: August 23, 1989

Psychiatrist R. D. Laing was known for his different perspective on mental illnesses, particularly psychosis. Known as anti-psychiatry, his theory of resolving mental ailments opposed the age-old shock therapy. His written works include The Divided Self. He was also a talented poet and had fathered 10 children by four women.

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 5 
Liam Fox
(Politician)

Liam Fox
4
Birthdate: September 22, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: East Kilbride, Scotland, UK

British politician Liam Fox has held important posts, such as that of the Secretary of State for International Trade and has also chaired the Conservative Party. He is also a qualified general physician and a former civilian army medical officer. He is married to a fellow doctor.

 6 
A. J. Cronin
(Physician)

A. J. Cronin
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1896
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cardross, Scotland
Died: January 6, 1981
A. J. Cronin was a Scottish novelist and physician best remembered for his 1937 novel The Citadel. The novel, which received the National Book Award in 1937, helped inspire the creation of the National Health Service. Many of his books, including The Citadel, have been adapted to films. His novella Country Doctor inspired a TV series titled Dr. Finlay's Casebook.

 7 
John Hunter
(military physician, physician, university teacher)

John Hunter
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1728
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lanarkshire
Died: October 16, 1793

John Hunter was a Scottish surgeon remembered for his efforts to study the human anatomy through investigation and experimentation. An early advocate of scientific method in medicine, Hunter was considered one of the most prominent surgeons of his generation. He is also remembered for paying for the body of Charles Byrne and displaying the skeletal remains in his Hunterian Museum.

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 8 
James Lind
(Doctor)

James Lind
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1716
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Died: July 13, 1794

James Lind revolutionized medical science by recommending lemon juice and citrus fruits as remedies for scurvy in British Navy officials. Though born into a Scottish merchant family, he ended up becoming a successful naval surgeon. His research also included the prevention of typhus among seamen.

 9 

Tobias Smollett
3
Birthdate: March 19, 1721
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dalquhurn (now part of Renton, Scotland Renton), Scotland
Died: September 17, 1771

Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.

 10 
Thomas Addison
(Physician, scientist)

Thomas Addison
3
Birthdate: April 2, 1793
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Longbenton, Northumberland
Died: June 29, 1860

The man behind the discoveries of ailments such as Addison's disease and Addison’s (pernicious) anemia, British physician Thomas Addison also co-wrote the first book on the effect of poisonous agents on the human body. He plunged into depression in his later years and eventually committed suicide.

 11 

James Young Simpson
3
Birthdate: June 7, 1811
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland
Died: May 6, 1870

Scottish obstetrician James Young Simpson is remembered as the first to use chloroform as an anesthetic in medicine. A University of Edinburgh professor, he was later made a queen’s physician in Scotland. He also received the title of a baronet. His research also included leprosy and fetal pathology.

 12 
John Rae
(explorer)

John Rae
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1813
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hall of Clestrain
Died: July 22, 1893

Apart from being a surgeon, John Rae later became famous as an explorer of the Canadian Arctic. Initially a resident surgeon at the Moose Factory post of the Hudson’s Bay Company, he later explored places such as Victoria Island. He later moved to London and was made a Royal Society Fellow.

 13 
Charles Bell
(Surgeon)

Charles Bell
2
Birthdate: November 12, 1774
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 28, 1842

Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, physiologist, anatomist, and neurologist. He was also an artist and philosophical theologian. He discovered the difference between sensory nerves and motor nerves in the spinal cord. He is also known for describing Bell's palsy. He played a key role in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. 

 14 
Daniel Rutherford
(Former physician, chemist and botanist who is known for the isolation of nitrogen in 1772)

Daniel Rutherford
2
Birthdate: November 3, 1749
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: November 15, 1819

Best known for discovering nitrogen gas, Scottish chemist Daniel Rutherford was also initially a practicing physician. A skilled botanist, he also taught botany at the University of Edinburgh. His other inventions include the maximum and minimum thermometers. He also co-founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

 15 
Sir James W. Black
(Pharmacologist, Physician)

Sir James W. Black
2
Birthdate: June 14, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Uddingston, Scotland
Died: March 21, 2010

Sir James W. Black was a Scottish pharmacologist and physician. Black, who became interested in the study of the human heart and its reaction to adrenaline, developed a beta-blocker named propranolol to treat heart diseases. He is also credited with developing cimetidine, a drug used to cure stomach ulcers. He was honored with the 1988 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

 16 
William Cullen
(Physician, Chemist, Farmer, Academic, University teacher, Writer, Psychiatrist)

William Cullen
2
Birthdate: April 15, 1710
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamilton
Died: February 5, 1790

Apart from being a prominent Scottish physician, William Cullen was also a main pillar of the Scottish Enlightenment. Not only did he treat luminaries such as philosopher David Hume, but he also treated the poor free of cost. A University of Edinburgh professor of medicine, he was also a Royal Society Fellow.

 17 
James Braid
(hypnotist, physician, hypnotherapist)

James Braid
2
Birthdate: June 19, 1795
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fife
Died: March 25, 1860

The Father of Hypnosis, James Braid used hypnotherapy as a treatment for scores of ailments such as paralysis and rheumatism. His research included the possibility of hypnosis as a tool to reduce pain during surgery. His methods were ridiculed initially but later paved way for the French school of neuropsychiatry.

Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar, 11th Baronet
2
Birthdate: September 6, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: September 12, 1991

A trans man, Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar, was initially raised as a girl and named Elizabeth. He later underwent medical treatment and presented himself as a man. He later fought a 3-year legal battle with his cousin for the title of the 11th Baronet of Craigievar and won the case.

 19 
Archie Cochrane
(Physician)

Archie Cochrane
2
Birthdate: January 12, 1909
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Galashiels, Scotland
Died: June 18, 1988

Remembered for his advocacy of randomized controlled trials in medicine, Scottish physician Archie Cochrane was one of the first to rely on evidence-based medicine. He had also been a member of the British medical unit at the Spanish Civil War and was a medical officer during World War II.

 20 
William Hunter
(Physician)

William Hunter
2
Birthdate: May 23, 1718
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Long Calderwood, Scotland
Died: March 30, 1783

Physician William Hunter is remembered for his efforts in making obstetrics a branch of medicine. After observing medical students in France, he introduced the use of cadavers for dissection in Britain. The Hunterian Museum in Scotland started with a collection of his belongings, including books and works of art.

 21 
John O. Agwunobi
(A formally trained pediatrician and chief executive officer and executive chairman of Herbalife Nutrition)

John O. Agwunobi
0
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland

 22 

Thomas Charles Hope
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: June 13, 1844

The third son of physician and botanist John Hope, Thomas Charles Hope began his career teaching chemistry and medicine and eventually chaired medicine at the University of Glasgow. He is remembered for discovering the element strontium and also explained why icebergs float. He eventually became a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 23 
James Bridie
(Playwright)

James Bridie
2
Birthdate: January 3, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: January 29, 1951

While he gained fame as a playwright under the pseudonym James Bridie, Osborne Henry Mavor was also a qualified physician who had served in both the World Wars. Interestingly, he wrote his first play, The Sunlight Sonata, using another pseudonym, Mary Henderson. He also co-established the Citizens’ Theatre.

 24 

Sir Patrick Manson
2
Birthdate: October 3, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: April 9, 1922

Best remembered as the founder of the domain of tropical medicine, parasitologist Sir Patrick Manson also had a degree in law. He practiced medicine in places such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and was the man behind the formation of the University of Hong Kong. He was later knighted, too.

 25 
John Boyd Orr
(Teacher)

John Boyd Orr
1
Birthdate: September 23, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kilmaurs, Scotland
Died: June 25, 1971

Apart from being a scientist and physician, John Boyd Orr also conducted ground-breaking research on nutrition. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was known for his campaigns to end world hunger, had also served the British army and navy as a medical officer. He was later knighted, too.

 26 
John Richardson
(Surgeon and Explorer)

John Richardson
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1787
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dumfries, Scotland
Died: June 5, 1865

Apart from being a naval surgeon, John Richardson also made a named for himself as an explorer of the Canadian Arctic coast. He was also a talented author of natural history. His accurate surveys eventually got him knighted. Various species of reptiles and mammals have been named in his honor.

 27 
Matthew Baillie
(Physician)

Matthew Baillie
1
Birthdate: October 27, 1761
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shots Manse, Scotland
Died: September 23, 1823

The man who penned the first published study of pathology in English, Matthew Baillie was an Oxford-educated physician who was later also named a Fellow of The Royal Society. He also inherited the estates of his physician uncle William Hunter and taught at his medical school for a while.

 28 

Alexander Monro
1
Birthdate: September 19, 1697
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 10, 1767

The son of surgeon John Munro, Alexander Monro followed in his father’s footsteps and became a leading surgeon and anatomist of his day. He, his son, and then his grandson held the Edinburgh University Chair of Anatomy for a collective 126 years. He was also named a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 29 
Gilbert Blane
(Physician)

Gilbert Blane
1
Birthdate: August 29, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Blanefield, Scotland
Died: June 26, 1834

Gilbert Blane was a Scottish physician best remembered for his association with the Royal Navy. Initially appointed as Lord Rodney's physician aboard HMS Sandwich, Blane worked hard to ameliorate the health of sailors by introducing health reform in the Navy; he revamped the diet and ensured the fleet took proper sanitary precautions.

Alexander Monro (secundus)
1
Birthdate: May 22, 1733
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: October 2, 1817

Alexander Monro was a Scottish physician, anatomist, and medical educator. Born into the famous Monro of Auchenbowie family, Alexander is best remembered for his work describing the lymphatic system. He spent most of his life as a lecturer and is credited with teaching several future physicians, including abolitionist and naval physician Thomas Trotter.

 31 
James Mackenzie
(Cardiologist)

James Mackenzie
1
Birthdate: April 12, 1853
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Scone, Scotland
Died: January 26, 1925

The son of a farmer, James Mackenzie was initially gearing up to be a chemist but later decided to study medicine instead. A pioneering cardiologist, he was the first to differentiate between dangerous and harmless arrhythmias. He was eventually knighted and made a Fellow of The Royal Society, too.

 32 
Robert Sibbald
(Physician)

Robert Sibbald
1
Birthdate: April 15, 1641
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 9, 1722

Robert Sibbald was a Scottish antiquary and physician best known for his study of whales. Sibbald was the first person to give a scientific description of the blue whale, which was originally named after him. Robert Sibbald is also remembered for his association with the University of Edinburgh where he served as the first professor of medicine, starting from 1685.

Sir John Pringle, 1st Baronet
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1707
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Roxburghshire, Scotland
Died: January 18, 1782

The pioneer of military medicine, British physician Sir John Pringle also taught at the University of Edinburgh. He had also served as a physician to King George III of Britain and the Duke of Cumberland. Apart from coining the term influenza, he also identified various types of dysentery as a single disease.

 34 
Watson Cheyne
(Surgeon)

Watson Cheyne
1
Birthdate: December 14, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Australia
Died: April 19, 1932

Watson Cheyne was a Scottish bacteriologist and surgeon best remembered for pioneering the implementation of antiseptic surgical methods in the UK. Cheyne is also known for his association with King's College Hospital, where he served as a surgeon from 1880 to 1917. From 1900 to 1901, he served as a consulting surgeon during the Boer War in South Africa. 

 35 
James Tytler
(Apothecary)

James Tytler
1
Birthdate: December 17, 1745
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fearn, Scotland
Died: January 11, 1804

James Tytler made history by becoming the first person from Britain to ride on a hot air balloon and thus became known as Balloon Tytler. The Scottish apothecary also edited the second edition of Encyclopedia Britannica and was branded an eccentric by many for his innovative aviation experiments.

 36 
Lauder Brunton
(Physician)

Lauder Brunton
0
Birthdate: March 14, 1844
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Roxburgh, Scotland
Died: September 16, 1916

Lauder Brunton is best remembered for discovering the use of amyl nitrate to reduce the pain of angina pectoris and for establishing pharmacology as a serious domain of science. He had, in his later life, converted to Islam and changed his name to Jalaluddin Lauder Brunton.