E. Donnall Thomas

E. Donnall Thomas
Born Edward Donnall Thomas
(1920-03-15)March 15, 1920
Mart, Texas, United States
Died October 20, 2012(2012-10-20) (aged 92)
Seattle, Washington, United States
Citizenship American
Fields Medicine
Institutions Mary Imogene Bassett Medical Center
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Harvard Medical School
Known for Transplantation
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,
National Medal of Science in 1990

Edward Donnall "Don" Thomas (March 15, 1920 – October 20, 2012)[1] was an American physician, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, and director emeritus of the clinical research division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In 1990 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Joseph E. Murray for the development of cell and organ transplantation. Thomas and his wife and research partner Dottie Thomas developed bone marrow transplantation as a treatment for leukemia.[2]


Born in Mart, Texas, Thomas often shadowed his father who was a general practice doctor. Later, he attended the University of Texas at Austin where he studied chemistry and chemical engineering, graduating with a B.A. in 1941 and an M. A. in 1943. While Thomas was an undergraduate he met his wife, Dorothy (Dottie) Martin while she was training to be journalist. They had three children. Thomas entered Harvard Medical School in 1943, receiving an M.D. in 1946. Dottie became a lab technician during this time to support the family, and the pair worked closely thereafter. He did his residency at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital before joining the US Army. "In 1955, he was appointed physician in chief at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, now Bassett Medical Center, in Cooperstown, N.Y., an affiliate of Columbia University." [3]

At Mary Imogene Bassett, he began to study rodents that received lethal doses of radiation who were then saved by an infusion of marrow cells. At the time, patients who underwent bone marrow transplantation all died from infections or immune reactions that weren't seen in the rodent studies. Thomas began to use dogs as a model system. In 1963, he moved his lab to the United States Public Health Service in Seattle.[4]

Thomas also received National Medal of Science in 1990. In 2003 he was one of 22 Nobel laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[5]

He died of heart failure and is survived by his three children.[4]

Awards and honors


  1. Frederick R. Appelbaum. Perspective: E. Donnall Thomas (1920–2012) Science 338(6111):1163, 30 November 2012
  2. Park, B; Yoo, KH; Kim, C (December 2015). "Hematopoietic stem cell expansion and generation: the ways to make a breakthrough.". Blood research. 50 (4): 194–203. doi:10.5045/br.2015.50.4.194. PMC 4705045Freely accessible. PMID 26770947. Dr. Donnall Thomas, who received Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation to cure leukemia and other hematologic malignancies, must be recognized and apprised as human endeavor to cure previously incurable diseases.
  3. "E. Donnall Thomas, Who Advanced Bone Marrow Transplants, Dies at 92". The New York Times. October 24, 2012.
  4. 1 2 Storb, R. (2012). "Edward Donnall Thomas (1920–2012)". Nature. 491 (7424): 334. doi:10.1038/491334a. PMID 23151572.
  5. "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 4, 2012.

External links

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