E. Donnall Thomas

Facts

E. Donnall Thomas

E. Donnall Thomas

Born: 15 March 1920, Mart, TX, USA

Died: 20 October 2012, Seattle, WA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA

Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning organ and cell transplantation in the treatment of human disease."

Prize share: 1/2

Life

Donnall Thomas was born in Texas. He was the son of a country general practitioner and was brought up in a small village and educated at the local school. He studied at the University of Texas in Austin, gaining degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering in 1943. He qualified in medicine in 1946 from Harvard. While a student he married Dorothy Martin. From 1963 they lived in Seattle. He retired from patient care in 1990, but continued to work in the Seattle transplant unit, and to travel and lecture all over the world. They had three children.

Work

The formation of blood cells takes place in bone marrow, and malfunctioning of bone marrow cells can lead to illnesses such as leukemia. From the mid-1950s Donnall Thomas developed methods of providing new bone marrow cells for people through transplants. Using radiation and chemotherapy, the body's own bone marrow cells are killed and the immune system's rejection mechanism is subdued. Bone marrow cells from a donor are then provided through a blood transfusion.

To cite this section
MLA style: E. Donnall Thomas – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Mon. 20 Aug 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1990/thomas/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.