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David Weatherall

Professor Sir David Weatherall is a renowned British physician and researcher in molecular genetics, haematology, pathology and clinical medicine. He is Regius Professor of Medicine Emeritus, retired Honorary Director of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, and Chancellor of Keele University.

After completing his medical and house staff training, Prof Weatherall joined the army for a 2-year assignment. Shipped to Singapore and put in charge of a children’s ward at the British Military Hospital, one of Prof Weatherall’s patients was a Ghurka child whom he eventually diagnosed as having homozygous β thalassemia with his biochemist colleague Frank Vella. They published their findings in the British Medical Journal, thus launching his distinguished research career. In the 50 years since then, Prof Weatherall has developed tests and clinics worldwide for children affected by the blood disease thalassemia. He also founded the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford in 1989. The Institute was later renamed the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in his honour upon his retirement in 2000.

Prof Weatherall was appointed Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford in 1974. In 1992, he assumed the prestigious chair, the Regius Professor of Medicine, until his retirement. He was knighted in 1987, received the Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Couronne in 1994, and the post of Deputy Lieutenant for Oxfordshire in 2000.

Prof Weatherall has received numerous awards including the Feldberg Foundation Award for Bioscience (1984), the Royal Medal, Royal Society (1989), the Helmut Horten Research Award (jointly with S. Orkin & Y.W. Kan in 1995), the Prince Mahidol Prize in Medicine (2002), the Allen Award of the American Society of Human Genetics (2003), and the Mendel Medal from The Genetics Society (2006). He was also awarded the Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science in 2010 for his dedication to the research and treatment of hereditary blood disorders. The award is given to living persons who have made major contributions to medical science or who have performed public service on behalf of medicine. Prof Weatherall is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Research areas
• Genetics of the haemoglobinopathies

Selected publications
• Angela O’Donnell, A Premawardhena, M Arambepola, S J Allen, T E A Peto, C A Fisher, D C Rees, Nancy F Olivieri and D J Weatherall (2007): Age-related changes in adaptation to severe anemia in childhood in developing countries. – Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104(22):9440-4.
• D J Weatherall, O Akinyanju, S Fucharoen, N F Olivieri and P Musgrove (2006): Inherited Disorders of Hemoglobin. – In: Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, ed. by Jamison, D et al.. Oxford University Press and the World Bank, Oxford & Washington, chap. 34, pp. 663-680.
• Thomas N Williams, Tabitha W Mwangi, Sammy Wambua, Timothy E A Peto, David J Weatherall, Sunetra Gupta, Mario Recker, Bridget S Penman, Sophie Uyoga, Alex Macharia, Jedidah K Mwacharo, Robert W Snow and Kevin Marsh (2005): Negative epistasis between the malaria-protective effects of alpha+-thalassemia and the sickle cell trait. – Nat Genet, 37(11):1253-7.
• A Premawardhena, C A Fisher, N F Olivieri, S de Silva, M Arambepola, W Perera, A O’Donnell, T E A Peto, V Viprakasit, L Merson, G Muraca and D J Weatherall (2005): Haemoglobin E beta thalassaemia in Sri Lanka. – Lancet, 366(9495):1467-70.
• Anuja Premawardhena, Christopher A Fisher, Nancy F Olivieri, Shanthimala de Silva, Jackie Sloane-Stanley, William G Wood and David J Weatherall (2005): A novel molecular basis for beta thalassemia intermedia poses new questions about its pathophysiology. – Blood, 106(9):3251-5.