Innogen · News · February 2, 2011

A tribute to Jim Jackson (1947-2011)

Jim Jackson SMALL

Our friend and colleague, Jim Jackson, former Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland and PhD student in the School of Social and Political Studies, will be deeply missed.

We are very sad to report the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Jim Jackson OBE on Wednesday 12 January 2011. Jim began his studies at the University of Edinburgh in 2007, successfully completing the online postgraduate Masters programme in Translational Medicine, a multidisciplinary course based in the School of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. With a long and extremely successful career as Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland (1994-1998), as well as his important work for Alzheimer Europe and Alzheimer’s Disease International, Jim returned to education with a desire to learn more about the new science and technology underlying contemporary clinical practice.  Jim was an outstanding student on both an academic and personal level. He continuously received some of the highest marks in his year, and always demonstrated a high level of analytical reasoning and originality. He made many friends with the academic staff and his fellow distance learning students on the programme; adapting well to the technology of distance learning and contributing fully to the social and academic discussion boards.

All who worked with Jim on this Programme describe him as a pleasure to work with and a genuinely nice and dedicated man. His achievements on the Translational medicine course were all the more remarkable given that he had no previous formal training in the natural sciences. A very hardworking and dedicated student, Jim had a genuine love of knowledge and thrived at the university.

After completing the Translational Medicine course with distinction, Jim began thinking about pursuing a PhD. During his MSc, he became particularly interested in how projects in translational medicine might need to be evaluated in a different way to other types of medical science, and set himself the task of investigating this important area; building on pilot work he conducted during his Masters dissertation. Translational Medicine is, amongst other things, about using new technologies and approaches to improving the process of bench to clinic research for patient benefit, and Jim was keen to understand how TM projects differed from conventional projects and what criteria might be used to evaluate their success. He developed an excellent proposal for a PhD entitled, “Translational Medicine - An investigation into how it is being evaluated”, which he pursued with enthusiasm when he began his doctoral studies in the School of Social and Political Studies in September 2010. Jim very quickly made many friends, and contributed greatly to the social and academic culture with his enthusiasm and general passion for academic study. He was a pleasure to teach and one of those rare individuals fully committed to bridging academia and social policy. Although I think pursuing a PhD was a personal ambition, Jim thought it important that his research be relevant to broader policy debates and eventually to improving patient care.

Although Jim was very gifted intellectually, and had an incredibly impressive career history, he was also remarkably modest about his abilities and achievements, which made him all the more personable. He will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues at the university and all those that had the pleasure to work with him. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Jennie, and the rest of his family.