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Deborah Doniach

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Deborah Doniach
Deborah Doniach

Deborah Doniach MD FRCP (born 6 April 1912, Geneva, Switzerland – died 1 January 2004, London, England, UK) was a distinguished clinical immunologist and pioneer in the field of autoimmune diseases.[1]

Life and work

Doniach was educated at the Lycée Molière, Paris, began her medical studies at the Sorbonne and completed them at Royal Free Medical School, London.[1][2] She was employed as a research assistant at the Royal Free Hospital then as an endocrinologist at Middlesex Hospital, London where she worked with the eminent thyroid surgeon, Rupert Vaughan-Hudson.[1][3] Her observation of patients with Hashimoto's disease and knowledge of the field led her to realise that excess antibodies were an autoimmune reaction against the thyroid gland itself rather than external microbes.[1][2] She collaborated with Ivan Roitt and Peter Campbell to further understand the autoimmune basis of Hashimoto's disease (citations). Doniach continued her studies at Middlesex Hospital with various collaborators, including Roitt, Sheila Sherlock, Keith Taylor, and Gianfranco Bottazzo, and uncovered an autoimmune basis for numerous diseases, including pernicious anemia, primary biliary cirrhosis, and type I diabetes [1][2] This led to the concept of organ-specific auto-immunity.[3]

In the 1960s she joined the then-new Department of Immunology at Middlesex where she was appointed as one of the first Consultant Immunopathologists. In 1974 she became Professor of Clinical Immunology.[2][3]

Doniach is the mother of Sebastian Doniach, a condensed matter physicist at Stanford University.

Selected Awards

  • Van Meter prize of the American Goitre Association (jointly with Ivan Roitt), 1957[2]
  • Gairdner Award Toronto (jointly with Ivan Roitt), 1964[2]
  • Prize of the British Postgraduate Federation, 1967[3]
  • Woman Scientist of the Year prize of the Association of American Women Scientists, 1984[3]

Selected Published Works

  • Berg, PA; Doniach, D; Roitt, IM (1967). "Mitochondrial antibodies in primary biliary cirrhosis. I. Localization of the antigen to mitochondrial membranes". The Journal of Experimental Medicine. 126 (2): 277–90. doi:10.1084/jem.126.2.277. PMC 2138313. PMID 4165742.
  • Roitt, I. M.; Campbell, P. N.; Doniach, Deborah (June 1958). "The nature of the thyroid auto-antibodies present in patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (lymphadenoid goitre)". Biochemical Journal. 69 (2): 248–256. doi:10.1042/bj0690248. PMC 1196545. PMID 13546173.
  • Bottazzo, G F; Doniach, D (1986). "Autoimmune Thyroid Disease" (PDF). Annual Review of Medicine. 37: 353–9. doi:10.1146/ PMID 2871804.


  1. ^ a b c d e "European Thyroid Association - Milestones - Deborah Doniach (1912-2004)". European Thyroid Association. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Brostoff, Jonathan (15 January 2004). "Obituary: Deborah Doniach". The Guardian Newspaper. London: The Guardian Newspaper. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wright, Pearce (20 March 2004). "Deborah Doniach". The Lancet. 363 (9413): 995. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)15809-1. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
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Deborah Doniach
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