An eminent surgeon, he did his practical training in obstetrics at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and also in London. In 1790 Towers requested to lecture on obstetrics at the University of Glasgow, the first such appointment, and he was also appointed the first professor of midwifery in 1815.
He died at home, 56 Ingram Street in central Glasgow on 24 July 1820, aged 63.
Towers married Helen McLehose (also called Helen Hozier) in Glasgow in 1790. They were parents to William Towers-Clark (1805–1870), a lawyer and dean of the Faculty of Procurators, and to John Towers (1791–1833), who succeeded James as the second occupant of the chair of midwifery at the university.
- "Individual Page".
- Glasgow Post Office Directory 1820
- Grave of James Towers, Glasgow Necropolis
- Comrie, John D. (1927) History of Scottish Medicine to 1860, London, Ballière, Tindall & Cox.
- MacLehose, James (1886) Memoirs and Portraits of One Hundred Glasgow Men, Glasgow, James MacLehose & Sons.