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Fellows Directory

David Weatherall

David Weatherall

Sir David Weatherall GBE FRS


Elected: 1977


David Weatherall was a haematologist and clinical researcher whose research focused on the genetics of blood disorders affecting haemoglobin, particularly thalassaemia. He was the first to describe thalassaemia outside the Mediterranean and his work led to the eradication of the disease in some parts of the world.

Through his work on thalassaemia, David demonstrated for the first time that a gene deletion could cause a human disease. He developed new methods for analysing haemoglobin and measuring the synthesis of alpha- and beta-haemoglobin chains. This provided the first clear evidence of how thalassaemia arises. In addition, David’s work made possible the detection of thalassaemia early in pregnancy, enabling antenatal diagnosis. His characterisation of the mutations causing thalassaemia led to numerous families being offered genetic counselling.

In 1989, David established the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine, which is now named in his honour. He was knighted in 1987. In 2010, he won the Lasker Award, a prestigious US medical research prize, and was the only scientist from outside the United States to win that year.

Sir David Weatherall GBE FRS died on 8 December 2018.

Interest and expertise


Alpha-thalassemia, Beta-thalassemia, Clinical genetics, Clinical epidemiology


  • Buchanan Medal

    In recognition of his notable contributions, over many years, to the application of molecular genetics to human medicine, in particular elucidating the many forms of molecular pathology that may underlie thalassaemias, and for his leadership in promoting the application of molecular genetics to medicine in the UK, not least as Director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford.

  • Royal Medals

    In recognition of his pioneering work on the clinical and molecular basis of the thalassaemias, and fundamental contributions to the unravelling of their heterogeneity.

  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in South-East Asia.

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