Prominent pharmacologist whose pioneering work on how the body stops bleeding improved the detection of thrombosis
In 1945, Gustav Born, a young and recently qualified doctor serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, was among the first allied staff to witness the medical aftermath of the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. Among the horrific injuries he encountered, one struck him particularly forcibly: the tendency of the survivors to suffer from severe bleeding disorders. This, he surmised, was attributable to a lack of blood platelets caused by radiation damage. It was evidently a decisive experience, for it set the course of his future research and, indeed, his entire career.
After the war, Gus, who has died aged 96, began postgraduate research at Oxford University with Howard Florey (who developed penicillin for pharmaceutical use), gaining his DPhil in 1951. He subsequently researched various other topics, including histamine and acid secretion in the stomach, neonatal physiology, smooth muscle and catecholamine pharmacology. But he was soon lured back by the fascination of platelet biology.