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Tessa Holyoake

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 12 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4224
  1. Mhairi Copland,
  2. Jeff Evans,
  3. Owen Samson,
  4. Mark Drummond

Experimental haematologist whose work transformed the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia

Tessa Holyoake, a world renowned expert in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), has died at the age of 54. She was the professor of experimental haematology at the Institute of Cancer Sciences at the University of Glasgow and director of the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre. Born in Aberdeen in 1963, she was educated at Albyn School and later studied medicine at the University of Glasgow before embarking on a research career in Glasgow and, for two years, Vancouver.

CML research

She joined Glasgow University in 1992 and was awarded a personal professorship in October 2004. Her observations have transformed our understanding of CML and its treatment. Most notably, she was the first to identify the existence of cancer stem cells in CML in 1999 during her research fellowship in Vancouver. Later, she showed the resistance of these stem cells to CML-specific therapies, such as imatinib and …

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