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Tom Meade: epidemiologist and expert in the role of clotting factors in cardiovascular disease

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 18 November 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2776
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}

Tom Meade was a pioneer in epidemiology—in particular, in the role blood clotting factors have in cardiovascular disease. Always down to earth, he was also a brave scientist—never afraid of challenging orthodoxy. The idea that clotting and thrombosis had anything to do with coronary disease was widely considered eccentric when he started his ground breaking research in the early 1970s.

But Meade had influential support, including that of Richard Doll who, with Austin Bradford Hill, highlighted the link between smoking and lung cancer. When Doll was appointed regius professor of medicine at Oxford, he chaired the committee that appointed Meade in 1970 to the job he himself had been going to take up—as first director of the joint Medical Research Council (MRC) and Department of Health and Social Security epidemiology and medical care unit at Northwick Park in London.

Meade later recalled, “He asked me for lunch to discuss my plans for the unit, and I’m glad to say, when I told him about the work I wanted to do on clotting in coronary heart disease, he said, ‘Yes, that’s a good one.’ High praise from Richard.”

But the intellectual inspiration behind Meade’s career was the man who explained why Britons were dying from heart attacks in unprecedented numbers after the second world war. Jerry …

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