John Burns Brooksby was born in Glasgow on 25 December 1914 and died suddenly at Swaffham Bulbeck near Cambridge on 17 December 1998. The son of an organ builder, George B Brooksby, John Brooksby attended Hyndland School, Glasgow before proceeding to the Glasgow Veterinary College. He completed the course in 1935 but could not be admitted as MRCVS until his 21st birthday on 25 December. While completing an external BSc in Veterinary Science for London University he taught histology at the Glasgow Veterinary College to second-year veterinary students, among whom was his wife-to-be, Muriel Weir.
In 1936 he decided on a career in research on animal physiology and obtained a research scholarship from the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, spending a year each at University College, London, McGill University, Montreal, Canada and Edinburgh University under Professor F A E Crew. However, in 1939 there were no openings available in animal reproduction, his preferred choice, and he joined the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Research Institute, Pirbright, as a research officer under Dr I A Galloway to become a veterinary virologist.
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