Dr. A. Brian Little
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1925 - 2012
Dr. A. Brian Little, a former chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of McGill University Medical School, died April 14th in Skillman, N.J. where in post retirement he taught and mentored at New Jersey's University of Medicine and dentistry until he became ill more than a year ago. He was 87.
Born in Montreal, March 11, 1925, he was an internationally recognized investigator in reproductive endocrinology, studying the metabolism of steroid hormones and the neuroendocrinology of reproduction.
He was a navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. Both his brothers in the Royal Canadian Navy were killed in action. After the war he graduated from McGill medical school, followed by a residency at Harvard medical school in obstetrics and gynecology. In this choice he emulated his father, a distinguished obstetrician-gynecologist who had been instrumental in founding the Women's Pavillion of the Royal Victoria Hospital. His father died at 57, leaving his mother to raise three young sons. From 1947 to 1970 she wrote a widely read food column, Let's Dine at Home, in the Gazette. Stephen Leacock was a friend and Dr. Little's bookshelves were filled with the autographed volumes of Canada's renowned humorist, inherited from his mother.
Early in his career Dr. Little headed obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston City Hospital on the Harvard service, where he did the first intrauterine tranfusion for RH sensitive fetuses. Later he moved to Cleveland, becoming chairman at the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital and then professor and chair at Case Western Reserve Medical School. He returned to McGill in 1984, retirng to New Jersey in 1993. He was known as "a teacher of teachers" and a point of pride in the academic world, a number of the faculty he recruited at the various institutions he was associated with became chairs of other academic departments. His emphasis was always on research, teaching and excellent patient care.
For 28 years, he was a funded investigator of the U.S's National Institutes of Health. He oversaw one of the most important perinatal clinical trials in the NIH's history, on antenatal steroid therapy to improve the outcome of premature babies. He was a council member and leader in directing the research efforts of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and chair of the steering committee of Reproductive Medical Centres. He served as a director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was president of the Perinatal Research Society and the Society of Gynecologic Investigation. He also became president of the American Gynecological Society of which his father had been a founding member.
He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Dr, Bitten Stripp and by his first wife Nancy Campbell and five of their six children. Their only son, Michael, died in a mountain accident in Austria, aged 19. His daughters are Deborah Little (Tyler Miller, M.D.), Susan (Peter Hoagland), Catherine (Dr. Dan Reagan), Jane Little M.D. (Tom Hostetter, M.D.) and Lucinda Little (David Wells). There are eight grandchildren, Catherine, Sam and William Miller-Little, Alexandra, Leah and Ian Hoagland and Andrew and Jane Reagan.
Published in The Gazette on Apr. 25, 2012