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Robert Booth Tattersall

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 05 February 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n348
  1. Edwin Gale,
  2. Rachel Tattersall

The young Robert Tattersall was working on a study of long term diabetes at King’s College London, when he came across a woman with a 40 year history of diabetes who had stopped taking insulin. So too had some of her relatives. David Pyke—Robert’s mentor—recalled the same phenomenon in another family. This simple clinical observation and some intensive sleuth work led to the discovery of maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY), the first single gene variant of diabetes to be described. It opened up a whole new field of research, which continues to yield a dividend both for science and for those who carry the genes involved.

Robert was born to two psychiatrists and went on to marry one. This, he said, “may go some way to explaining my interest in the psychological aspects of diabetes and the hinterland between medicine and psychiatry.” He studied at Cambridge and St Thomas’ Hospital and did a senior house officer job at Nottingham General Hospital before joining David Pyke in London. It was an exciting time to be in diabetes. The genetic heterogeneity of the condition was coming to …

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