Professor Gustav Born FRS
Gustav Born was a pharmacologist who revealed mechanisms through which the body stops bleeding and initiates blood clotting. By demonstrating the chain reaction that enables platelets to quickly form a clot, Gustav paved the way for contemporary antiplatelet medicines that have reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke for millions of people.
Brought up in a Jewish family, Gustav emigrated from 1930s Germany to the United Kingdom with his father Max, a physicist and mathematician who later received the Nobel Prize in Physics. After studying medicine, Gustav was called up as an Army doctor. During this time, he treated victims of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima — many of whom had haemorrhaged due to radiation destroying their platelets.
On his return to the United Kingdom, Gustav’s research career focused on platelet function. He invented the aggregometer to track the speed of platelet aggregation. This revealed a positive feedback loop — targeted by aspirin and other antiplatelet drugs — in which initial clumping is followed by the release of factors that initiate the next wave of clot formation.
Professor Gustav Born FRS died on 16 April 2018.
Interest and expertise
- Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
- Pharmacology (non-clinical)
- Health and human sciences
- History of science, Public understanding of science, Science policy