Alexander Scott Henderson was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1935. Following schooling at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven, Scott studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen, with specialist training at the Royal Infirmary and the Ross Clinic, also in Aberdeen. After moving to Sydney Scott was appointed registrar in psychiatry at Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney. In 1965 Scott returned to Scotland to obtain research experience in psychiatry and epidemiology, not available to him at that time in Australia.
In 1969, Scott was appointed Foundation Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Tasmania. In 1974 he inaugurated the Social Psychiatry Research Unit (SPRU), an elite NHMRC research unit which Scott elected to embed within ANU. This Unit, which became a WHO Collaborating Centre in Mental Disorders, developed elements of medical sciences (psychiatry, epidemiology and statistics), well suited to the new challenges confronting modern medicine.
Despite its non-tenured funding structure, SPRU thrived and became notably productive and internationally recognised. In later years, the Unit’s emphasis moved to mental disorders of the elderly – depression and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. In 2001, as Scott finished his formal appointment with ANU, SPRU was re-named the Centre for Mental Health Research.
Scott Henderson was appointed Professor Emeritus at ANU in 2001, and AO by the Commonwealth Government in 2003. Since notional retirement in 2001, Scott has kept his hand in, with senior clinical and research appointments at Canberra Hospital, the Department of Defence, and as an editor of the ANZ Journal of Psychiatry.