E Donnall Thomas (Edward Donnall Thomas) was an American doctor and medical researcher who was born on August 7th, 1918. Towards the end of World War II, Edward would invent the world’s first successful bone marrow transplantation to cure leukemia. It is weird but notable that Edward received this honor in America. He also studied with Ernest McCulloch at the University of Minnesota and developed an interest in transplantation biology which eventually shaped his career.
About E. Donnall Thomas
Dr. E Donnall Thomas was born on August 7th, 1918 in Twin Falls, Idaho. In college, he studied biology and graduated often with honors. His scientific career began when he joined the University of Minnesota for medical school in 1944. It was there that he met Dr. Ernest McCulloch who became a great influence in his life and research outside the lab. At the time, Dr. Thomas was seriously considering becoming an orthopedic surgeon but took a job at a medical laboratory at the university in order to work on his thesis concerning the transplantation of blood between chimpanzees and humans due to diseases like leukemias and related disorders.
Life of Thomas
E Donnall Thomas was born on March 15, 1920. He was the oldest of six children in a family of West Virginian-Irish descent. Five of the others died at an early age. Edward’s childhood was spent with his parents on their farm in southern West Virginia, where he often helped with chores like chopping wood and driving cattle. While Francis William became a dentist, Edward pursued a degree in biology and pre med studies at Marshall College (now Marshall University) in Huntington, West Virginia. His life took another dramatic turn when he received his medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh’s medical school and went to work for the university as part of its biochemistry department.
E Donnall Thomas eventually returned to the field of transplantation biology in the 1960s and became director of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) transplantation biology program. In 1968 he presented his theories on organ rejection and how to promote organ survival using various anti-rejection drugs. He also showed how to prolong organ survival by following a three-pronged approach. It involved implementing treatment as soon as possible with multiple drugs designed to prevent organ rejection while also protecting the donor organ from the body’s immune system.
Dr. E Donnall Thomas was married and had four sons. His wife mostly stayed at home to raise the children, although she also worked as a psychiatric nurse at a local hospital. She died in 2003 after fifty-five years of marriage.
E. Donnall Thomas Career
Dr. Edward Thomas had a successful career in the field of organ transplantation during which he discovered how to prolong organ survival using anti-rejection drugs. He also founded the nation’s first human bone marrow transplant center at the NIH.
The first bone marrow transplant
Douglas Blumeyer, one of Dr. Thomas’s early students, recalls him as a master teacher who inspired more than six hundred graduates and postdoctoral fellows to pursue careers in medical research and science administration. In addition to being a superb scientist, Dr. Thomas was also considered a remarkable teacher who played an integral role in training many of the world’s experts in transplantation biology.
Thomas was also known for his dedication to his family and friends, who say he was an avid woodsman and fly fisherman who loved to travel.
He authored numerous articles and reports, many of which are available in medical journals, as well as several books on bone marrow transplantation. As a former president of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry (IBMTR), Thomas played an important role in compiling a database of over 19,000 bone marrow transplants from around the world.
Thomas was the recipient of numerous awards for his research and discoveries. His most notable award came in 2005 when he received the NIH Distinguished Investigator Award for lifetime achievement, which is considered one of the nation’s highest honors for biomedical research.
Awards and Honors
At the time of his death on February 17, 2011, Thomas had been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and Washington and Lee University. He also received the John Curtin Distinguished Service to Australia Award from the Australian Government. He was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1971 and became its president two years later.
Dr. Thomas died in his sleep at his home in Baltimore, Maryland following a battle with emphysema and pneumonia.