Date of death: 01 May 2000
Year James Spence Medal awarded: 1987
After graduating from the University of Bristol, John Emery worked with the Emergency Medical Service in the care of evacuated children during the war. He then began a career in pathology in Bristol before working as Consultant Pathologist to the Children's Hospital in Sheffield where he was the first pathologist to be appointed there. He built up an impressive paediatric pathology department which was successful in understanding the nature of childhood disease and developing better methods of management.
He gained international recognition as one of the founding fathers of paediatric pathology in the country, and in 1972 he was appointed Professor Associate in Paediatric Pathology at the University of Sheffield. Emery’s interests included haematology, developmental anatomy, congenital deformities, particularly hydrocephalus, and unexplained infant deaths, and he wrote and lectured extensively. He was the Frederick Still lecturer of the BPA in 1977. In his retirement, he had been seeking an understanding of cot death and recognised traditional methods of pathology alone can’t solve the problem.
Professor Emery initiated the International Paediatric Pathology Association, the Paediatric Pathology Society and the Developmental Pathology Society, and was a Founder Member of the Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida. He was also a member of the inaugurating committee of the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths. His influence was worldwide; he advised on paediatric pathology services in India on behalf of WHO and undertook studies in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.