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Sir David Weatherall, an ‘iconic’ scientist who carried out groundbreaking work in thalassaemia, dies

The international scientific and research community is mourning the loss of Sir David Weatherall, the highly-regarded British clinical scientist and haematologist whose studies focused on haemoglobin disorders and thalassaemia. His passing leaves behind an irreplaceable gap in the medical world, but also an outstanding scientific heritage for the younger generations of researchers across the world.

Sir David Weatherall has exemplarily served medical sciences through his research focusing on understanding the pathophysiology of haemoglobinopathies. He was the first to recognize, together with his colleague John Clegg, the production of an abnormal form of haemoglobin as the cause of thalassaemia, making it possible to detect the disease at the beginning of pregnancy, and thus allowing prenatal diagnosis and contributing to the improvement of quality of life for millions of patients over the last decades.

Weatherall’s groundbreaking work has revolutionized the application of molecular biology to all aspects of clinical medicine, and culminated in the establishment of the Oxford Molecular Medicine Institute. In 2010, he received the Lasker-Koshland Special Prize, also known as the ‘America’s Nobels’, as the ultimate recognition for his exceptional contributions in research.

In addition to his scientific achievements and his impact as a leader, teacher, and mentor, Sir David has stood out for his intellect, ethos, and the particular sensitivity he has shown towards patients and their families. He has been a close associate of the World Health Organization and the Thalassaemia International Federation for several decades.

TIF expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and relatives of the deceased, who was not only a scientist and a distinguished member of the Federation, but, above all, a true friend and a passionate supporter of TIF’s work.