David Weatherall

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David Weatherall

Jeremy Farrar and David Weatherall at RILD launch (14425802043).jpg
David John Weatherall

(1933-03-09)9 March 1933[1]
Died8 December 2018(2018-12-08) (aged 85)
Oxford, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Liverpool
Scientific career

Sir David John Weatherall, GBE, FRS (9 March 1933 – 8 December 2018)[2] was a British physician and researcher in molecular genetics, haematology, pathology and clinical medicine.[3][4][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

David Weatherall was born in Liverpool.[7] He was educated at Calday Grange Grammar School and then attended Medical School at the University of Liverpool where he served as Treasurer of the Liverpool Medical Students Society in 1954.[citation needed]

He graduated from med school in 1956. After house staff training, he joined the Army for 2 years, as part of the national service and was stationed in Singapore. There he treated the daughter of a Gurkha soldier with thalassemia, which sparked a lifelong interest in this disease. He used car batteries and filter paper for electrophoresis while there.[7]


Returning from military service, he took a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.[citation needed] He returned to Liverpool, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Haematology. His research concentrated on the genetics of the haemoglobinopathies and, in particular, a group of inherited haematological disorders known as the thalassemias that are associated with abnormalities in the production of globin, the protein component of haemoglobin. Weatherall was one of the world's experts on the clinical and molecular basis of the thalassemias and the application for their control and prevention in developing countries.[8] [9] [10] [11]

In 1974, Weatherall moved to Oxford, as he was appointed Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford. He worked with the biochemist John Clegg until his retirement in 2000. They were able to separate the α and β chains of haemoglobin and to demonstrate that the relative lack of production of these proteins resulted in α and β thalassaemia.[7]

In 1989, Weatherall founded the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford, which was renamed the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in his honour in 2000 upon his retirement.[citation needed] From 1991–1996 he was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.[citation needed] In 1992, he assumed the most prestigious chair, that of Regius Professor of Medicine, which he held until retirement.

He was a member of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education that published an influential report[which?] in 1997.[12] He became Chancellor of Keele University.[when?]

In 2002, Weatherall wrote a major report on the application of genomics for global health for the World Health Organization.[13] Weatherall was a Distinguished Supporter of Humanists UK.[citation needed]

In 2009, a working group report under Weatherall's Chairmanship concluded that there was a strong scientific case to maintain biomedical research activities using non-human primates in carefully selected areas.[14]

Awards and honours[edit]

He was knighted in 1987[1] and appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to medicine.[15]

In 1989 he was awarded the Royal Medal by the Royal Society for his work on the thalassaemias.[citation needed]

In 1995 he was awarded the Fothergillian prize by the London Medical Society.[citation needed]

In 1998 he was awarded the Manson Medal by the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for his contributions to the field of tropical medicine and hygiene.[16]

In 2010 he was awarded a Lasker Award, the most significant US prize for medical research with many past award winners subsequently going on to receive Nobel prizes.[citation needed] He was the only person outside America to win the award that year.[citation needed]

In 2012, Keele University named the Medical School building on the Keele Campus the David Weatherall Building in honour of Sir David. The MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) is named in his honour.[17]

He was an honorary member of the British Society for Immunology.[18]


  1. ^ a b WEATHERALL, Sir David (John). ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2014 (online edition via Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Professor Sir David Weatherall obituary: 'iconic' scientist dies - BioNews". www.bionews.org.uk.
  3. ^ Murray, C. J. L.; Vos, T.; Lozano, R.; Naghavi, M.; Flaxman, A. D.; Michaud, C.; Ezzati, M.; Shibuya, K.; Salomon, J. A.; Abdalla, S.; Aboyans, V.; Abraham, J.; Ackerman, I.; Aggarwal, R.; Ahn, S. Y.; Ali, M. K.; Almazroa, M. A.; Alvarado, M.; Anderson, H. R.; Anderson, L. M.; Andrews, K. G.; Atkinson, C.; Baddour, L. M.; Bahalim, A. N.; Barker-Collo, S.; Barrero, L. H.; Bartels, D. H.; Basáñez, M. G.; Baxter, A.; et al. (2012). "Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990–2010: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010". The Lancet. 380 (9859): 2197–223. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61689-4. PMID 23245608.
  4. ^ David Weatherall's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Vos, T; Flaxman, A. D.; Naghavi, M; Lozano, R; Michaud, C; Ezzati, M; Shibuya, K; Salomon, J. A.; Abdalla, S; Aboyans, V; Abraham, J; Ackerman, I; Aggarwal, R; Ahn, S. Y.; Ali, M. K.; Alvarado, M; Anderson, H. R.; Anderson, L. M.; Andrews, K. G.; Atkinson, C; Baddour, L. M.; Bahalim, A. N.; Barker-Collo, S; Barrero, L. H.; Bartels, D. H.; Basáñez, M. G.; Baxter, A; Bell, M. L.; Benjamin, E. J.; et al. (2012). "Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990–2010: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010". The Lancet. 380 (9859): 2163–96. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61729-2. PMC 6350784. PMID 23245607.
  6. ^ "burkes-peerage.net - This website is for sale! - burke Resources and Information". www.burkes-peerage.net.
  7. ^ a b c Geoff Watts. David John Weatherall. Obituary. The Lancet| Volume 393, ISSUE 10169, P314, January 26, 2019, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30113-8
  8. ^ Watts, G (2010). "David Weatherall: Lasker Award for pioneer in molecular medicine". The Lancet. 376 (9751): 1457. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61981-2. PMID 21036263.
  9. ^ Weatherall, D (2006). "Sir David Weatherall reflects on genetics and personalized medicine. Interviewed by Ulrike Knies-Bamforth". Drug Discovery Today. 11 (13–14): 576–9. doi:10.1016/j.drudis.2006.05.007. PMID 16862731.
  10. ^ Kan, Y. (2004). "Introductory Speech for Sir David Weatherall". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 74 (3): 382–384. doi:10.1086/381938. PMC 1182249.
  11. ^ Weatherall, D (2004). "2003 William Allan Award address. The Thalassemias: The role of molecular genetics in an evolving global health problem". American Journal of Human Genetics. 74 (3): 385–92. doi:10.1086/381402. PMC 1182250. PMID 15053011.
  12. ^ "Higher Education in the learning society: Main Report". Education England. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  13. ^ CMH
  14. ^ NHP Study Archived 6 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B7.
  16. ^ "List of past medal holders". Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Homepage — MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine". www.imm.ox.ac.uk.
  18. ^ "Honorary members - British Society for Immunology". www.immunology.org.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Baron Moser
Chancellor of Keele University
Succeeded by
Jonathon Porritt