Intended for healthcare professionals


Donald Jeffries

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 09 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e922
  1. Jane Anderson,
  2. Geoff Ridgway
  1. Correspondence to: J Anderson janderson{at}

Virologist who helped shape the UK response to HIV

The clinical virologist Professor Donald James Jeffries was at the forefront of the UK response to HIV and transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). His prolific research programme in HIV/AIDS included studies into routes of infection, disease course, drug development, and trials of clinical treatments. Working with Roche on the development of saquinavir (Invirase), the first of the protease inhibitor class of antiretroviral drugs, was a critical step in the history of HIV therapy and underpinned remarkable advances in prognosis for people with HIV.

Decontamination of surgical instruments

Don’s legacy for HIV and TSEs includes a wealth of sensible guidance in some of the most challenging areas of medical and scientific policy and practice of the past 30 years. Examples include giving guidance on safe practices for healthcare workers with HIV; changing the life insurance industry’s code of practice to assess risk behaviour rather than sexual orientation when calculating premiums; advising on decontamination of surgical instruments; and the introduction of universal precautions to reduce transmission of blood borne infections.

Born and brought up in north London, Don qualified in 1966 at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, subsequently training in pathology. He was the first person …

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