With the desire to become a doctor from a very young age, Stuart John Saunders, MD cultivated a career based in integrity. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, he attended the University of Cape Town, where he spent the majority of his career after receiving a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery in 1953. From 1955 to 1958, he became a registrar in pathology and medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, an affiliate of the University of Cape Town. After this, he briefly spent a year in London as a research assistant at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School. Then, from 1961 to 1971, he served as a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the hospital. Also during this time, he received a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Cape Town. From 1971 to 1980, while serving as a fellow in medicine of both Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, he also served as a professor and head of the medical department at Groote Schuur Hospital. Additionally, towards the end of this tenure, from 1978 to 1980, he served as deputy principal for planning at the University of Cape Town. In 1981, he was appointed vice chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and held this position until his retirement in 1996. During his time at the university, Dr. Saunders also co-founded the Liver Clinic & Liver Research Unit.
After his retirement, Dr. Saunders held many appointments at the university and in the field of academic administration. He served on the Council for Higher Education from 2002 to 2010 and he served as the senior advisor of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 2000 to 2012. In addition, he was active in the National Working Group with the Minister of Education in South Africa. As a professional dedicated to equality, Dr. Saunders previously served as the president of the South Africa Institute of Race Relations. Civically, he has worked with the Claude Leon Foundation, the Fox Foundation, the Webb Trust, the Friends of Valkenberg Trust, and the University of Cape Town Trust. Throughout his career, Dr. Saunders has been most proud of what he was able to achieve at the University of Cape Town in opposing racial discrimination during apartheid. In his spare time in retirement, he enjoys reading and fishing.
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