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Pⁿ Blog
The Pⁿ Blog is a forum for opinions, questions, controversies, and instructive discussions across the field of pathology and its relevant subspecialties.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Robert E. Scully, M.D.
On Tuesday, October 30th Dr. Robert E. Scully died at 91 years of age following a stroke.  That short sentence conveys a world of loss for our profession.  Bob Scully has been called by his academic colleagues around the world, "one of the premier, if not THE premier surgical pathologist of his generation."  He had suffered from a number of age-related maladies for the last few years but had remained remarkably in command of his mental faculties until the very end.  He was primarily known around the world for his landmark work throughout the broad fields of gynecologic and gonadal pathology.  As but one example,  he was the absolute world expert on the pathology of intersex gonads.  What may be less well known is that he was a superb, world-class general surgical pathologist and the "go to" guy at the Massachusetts General Hospital pathology department for specimens of all types for decades.  Yet, in a profession that has no shortage of large egos, Bob Scully was remarkably lacking in one; and if anyone deserved a large ego, he certainly did! 
 
Just as I noted in my comments on Ron Dorfman's death a few  months back, Bob Scully was both a gentleman and a gentle man.  He was always willing to give credit and aid to his junior faculty, often suggesting that they be given positions of honor or responsibility in lieu of him.  The noted gynecologic pathologist Harold Fox once described Dr. Scully as, "modest, welcoming and friendly, treating all, from the most eminent to the most junior, with the same warmth and amicability."
 
I was privileged and honored to work with Bob for several years on an ASCP workshop and on several ASCP committees, as well as working with him as editor of Diagnostic Surgical Pathology.   I cherish the memories of our course together, as well as the after-course dinners and occasional Martini's.  I remember him once saying to me that he did his best writing after drinking a Martini.  I suspect that was more an example of Bob's wit rather than truth, but his best writing, indeed ALL his writing, was truly the gold standard for all of us, each article a true work of art. 
 
Several decades ago, I had the privilege of traveling around the Yucatan pennisula with Bob and four other United States pathologists who were invited to speak at the Mexican Pathology Association.  Bob was the hit of the trip, sprinting up the steps of Mayan ruins far ahead of the rest of us, and waving from the top, chastising us for being so slow. In addition he kept us all laughing on the long car rides with his wonderfully dry sense of humor. 
 
To give full credit to either Bob Scully the man or Bob Scully the pathologist is well beyond the scope of this blog or the abilities of its author.  Several more formal obituaries and tributes will be published in the American Journal of Surgical Pathology, American Journal of Clinical Pathology, and undoubtedly other journals.  An excellent summary of Dr. Scully's life and career can be found in Chapter 10 of the book,"Keen Minds to Explore Dark Continents of Disease. A history of pathology services at the Massachusetts General Hospital." 
 
Suffice it to say, we are unlikely to see his equal.  He leaves a HUGE legacy of both work and trainees.
 
About the Author

Stacey E. Mills, MD
Stacey E. Mills, MD, a graduate of University of Virginia (UVA) and the UVA Medical Center, has authored nearly 230 articles, 20+ books, atlases and monographs—including the renowned Sternberg's Diagnostic Surgical Pathology. He has been a practicing Professor and Staff Pathologist at UVA for 30+ years and is Director of Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology. His clinical specialty is general surgical pathology with emphasis on neoplasms and neoplasm-like lesions. Dr. Mills is also Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Surgical Pathology.