(New South Wales & New College 1953) (18 January 1932)
James Graham McLeod was born on 18 January 1932, the son, and grandson, of builders. After the war, his parents moved to Ashfield, where McLeod was born, the youngest of four children by several years. He was an exceptional student and dux of his leaving year at Sydney Grammar School. His early ambition was to become a veterinarian, because of his love of animals, but instead, but he followed his father’s advice to accept a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Sydney, and never looked back.
McLeod’s involvement with the University of Sydney, both professionally and spiritually, was lifelong. He is an alumnus of the University’s St Paul’s College, where he was a sub-warden (1958). While completing a BSc (Med) in 1953, McLeod met Professor Frank Cotton, who was assessing students for their physical capacity for rowing. Although McLeod had no experience in this sport, results of his tests suggested he may succeed as an oarsman. Indeed, he won a university Blue in rowing (also in rifle shooting) and represented NSW in the King’s Cup.
McLeod was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 1953, and in 1956 graduated DPhil (Oxon) for his studies into the physiology of pain. During his candidature he represented Oxford in the Oxford and Cambridge boat race and in 1954, with three other Australia scholars in the crew, helped Oxford to win the centenary race.