Thomas Welwyn OsbornBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1106-d (Published 04 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1106
Thomas Welwyn OsbornFormer medical scientist and senior research fellow (b Welwyn Garden City 1921; q University of London 1947), died from multiple myeloma on 28 July 2004 in London.
Tom took the professional path of a medical scientist and researcher. He was employed by the Medical Research Council and also by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control. On his retirement he was appointed as senior visiting research fellow at the National Heart and Lung Institute within Imperial College.
In the early 1950s, the British Medical Research Council decided to undertake a major study of the safety and efficacy of BCG vaccine because of the necessity to control vaccine strains to ensure safety and consistency. Tom was appointed to fulfil this crucial and central role as a person of considerable ingenuity, originality, patience, and dedication. Tom’s research methods were subsequently adopted by the World Health Organisation and largely because of this the Medical Research Council was able to show remarkably consistent protection against tuberculosis given by BCG vaccination of British schoolchildren. Tom with his innate curiosity and enthusiasm became a world expert on bacteriology on BCG vaccine in its global setting. This remained Tom’s field of scientific work until his retirement and his knowledge was indeed encyclopaedic.
Tom was extremely meticulous and caring in his work so that his results really do stand up to rigorous attempts to refute them. Tom is also remembered for his exceedingly helpful attitude to other researchers in this field, even those who sought to refute his work. Jealousy and self interest were as foreign to his nature as the need for fame and recognition. [John M Grange, Helena M Klenka]
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