Thomas Dormandy

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 24 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2322
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Chemical pathologist who studied free radicals and wrote an acclaimed book on tuberculosis

Thomas Dormandy was the newly appointed consultant chemical pathologist at the Whittington Hospital in north London when he first started to work on the study of free radicals. These had been recognised by chemists working in industrial research, but it was not until the 1960s that their role in biology or clinical medicine was acknowledged.

Dormandy’s research was focused mainly on the study of trace metals in health when he began to look at the link with free radicals. He appointed a postgraduate biochemist, and they undertook a clinical study on red blood cells taken from patients with blood disorders in which cells broke down.1 When these red blood cells were incubated with hydrogen, peroxide free radicals spontaneously formed. The potential damaging effect of free radicals is limited by the presence of antioxidants, and Dormandy studied the different antioxidants present in normal human plasma.

Professor Malcolm Jackson, head of the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease at Liverpool University, undertook collaborative work with Dormandy, examining the potential role of selenium in skeletal muscle disorders. He says that Dormandy’s role was important as he was one of the first people in the early days of research …

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