J. G. Adami was born at Manchester, the son of John George Adami, who was of Italian descent, and his wife Sarah Ann Ellis, daughter of Dr. Thomas Leech of Urmston, Lancashire, and sister of D. J. Leech, F.R.C.P. He went for his education to Old Trafford School, Owens College, and Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he obtained double first-class honours in natural sciences. He then worked at Breslau, under Heidenhain, for eight months, before returning to Manchester to finish his clinical training, and, having qualified in 1887, filled a house appointment at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. In 1888 he was once more in Cambridge, as University demonstrator of physiology. In 1891 he was elected a fellow of Jesus College, having been appointed John Lucas Walker student and worked at the Pasteur Institute in Paris a year previously.
Adami’s career gained a fresh impetus when in 1892 he was made Strathcona professor of pathology at McGill University, Montreal. Here, by his own original work, the organisation of his laboratories and his ability to attract and inspire students, he quickly made a name for himself and for his department. Of his own publications, an article on inflammation in Allbutt’s System of Medicine (1896) attracted particular attention. His two volumes, Principles of Pathology (1909-10), were also well received and were followed by a Textbook of Pathology (1912), in which John McCrae collaborated with Adami. In 1912 he was chosen as president both of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Association of American Physicians. Two years later he was awarded the Fothergillian gold medal of the Medical Society of London, and in 1917 he delivered the Croonian Lectures before the Royal College of Physicians.
A colonel in the C.A.M.C., he served throughout the War of 1914-1918 as assistant director of medical services in charge of records at London, receiving the C.B.E. in 1919 for his services. In 1919 he resigned his position at McGill to become vice-chancellor of Liverpool University. There he shouldered the tasks of providing for a quickly expanding student population and of strengthening the association between the business and academic communities. For these his untiring enthusiasm and genial accessibility were well suited, marred though they were by an impulsiveness that was sometimes indiscreet. Adami was a man of wide culture, and the appreciation of art and the collection of china were not the least of his interests. He married, firstly, in 1894 Mary Stuart, daughter of James Alexander Cantlie of Montreal, by whom he had one son and one daughter, and, secondly, in 1922 Marie, daughter of Rev. Thomas Wilkinson of Litherland, near Liverpool. He died at Ruthin.
G H Brown
[Lancet, 1926; B.M.J., 1926; Plarr, i, 2; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1927, 30; D.N.B., 1922-30, 6; M. Adami, J. George Adami: a Memoir, 1930]