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Dr. Scatliff was born in Evanston, Illinois, and attended Northwestern University. After WWII, he served in the US Army as a medical corpsman in Korea in 1946-47. He graduated in 1952 from Northwestern Medical School, followed by rotating internships and a radiology residency in Chicago. The first ten years of his career were spent as an academic radiologist at the Yale University Medical Center, where he met and married Irene Andresen. Their partnership was responsible for his decision to become a Democrat; daily conversation over sherry, crackers, and cheese was a mainstay of their marriage and advanced his acumen as a leader. They were dyed-in-the-wool Tar Heel fans.

Over the span of his 65-year career, Dr. Scatliff made significant contributions to the expansion of the field of Radiology, as a researcher, mentor, and teacher. He published nearly 100 refereed research publications; the most recent was in 2014 about anatomists Andreas Vesalius and Thomas Willis in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. He was President of the Association of University Radiologists, received three UNC Professor of the Year Awards, the UNC Distinguished Faculty Award, the Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. To honor his achievements, UNC’s MRI Center was named for Dr. Scatliff in 1992.

Throughout his career, Dr. Scatliff was dedicated to affordable health care, and only became more vocal in recent years. This commitment began when he was a young boy during the depression tagging along with his physician father to care for patients regardless of their ability to pay. Despite the many advances in medicine, he never stopped living by his own advice that physicians must first ask of patients “tell me about you” and to always “look through the heart.”

Dr. Scatliff channeled his flair for the dramatic into both his teaching and everyday life. While in summer school at Northwestern, he won a bit part in the movie Julius Caesar, starring Charlton Heston, playing a Roman soldier on a battlefield. While at UNC, he was cast as Professor Willard in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at Playmakers. We encourage you to watch a few 3-minute shorts — “Think DeCubitus,” Tootsie, and Kermit the Frog “pearls” for graduating UNC medical students — that showcase Dr. Scatliff gift for teaching on his YouTube Channel.

James H. Scatliff Memorial Fund