Thomas Strangeways

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Thomas Strangeways Pigg Strangeways
Thomas Strangeways Wellcome L0003592.jpg
Known forFounding the Strangeways Research Laboratory; developing tissue culture techniques
Scientific career
Fields Pathology, cell biology
Academic advisors Alfredo Kanthack
Notable students Honor Fell

Thomas Strangeways Pigg Strangeways (1866-1926) was a British pathologist, known for founding the Cambridge Research Hospital, which was renamed the Strangeways Research Laboratory following Strangeways' death in 1926. [1]

Strangeways Research Laboratory Research institute in Cambridge, UK

Strangeways Research Laboratory is a research institution in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It was founded by Thomas Strangeways in 1905 as the Cambridge Research Hospital and acquired its current name in 1928. Organised as an independent charity, it was historically funded primarily by the Medical Research Council and is currently managed by the University of Cambridge, also its sole trustee. Formerly a site of research on rheumatic arthritis and connective tissue disorders, it has since 1997 focused on the study of genetic epidemiology.


Education and early career

Strangeways was born Thomas Strangeways Pigg in 1866. [2] Strangeways studied under Alfredo Kanthack at St Bartholomew's Hospital and received his medical degree in 1890. [1] [2] He followed Kanthack to the University of Cambridge after Kanthack was offered the chair of the Pathology Department there. Strangeways became a demonstrator and subsequently a lecturer in pathology at the University of Cambridge. [1] [3]

Alfredo Kanthack microbiologist

Alfredo Kanthack BA (Lond), BSc, BS, MA (Cantab), MB, MD, LRCP, FRCP, FRCS (1863-1898) was a Brazilian-born microbiologist and pathologist who worked in England. His distinguished career was cut short by his premature death at the age of 35.

St Bartholomews Hospital Hospital in London

St Bartholomew's Hospital, commonly known as Barts, is a teaching hospital located in the City of London. It was founded in 1123 and is currently run by Barts Health NHS Trust.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Founding of Cambridge Research Hospital

A page of notes from a Research Hospital notebook dated 1921, believed to have been written by Strangeways. Strangeways Research Laboratory. Wellcome L0024771.jpg
A page of notes from a Research Hospital notebook dated 1921, believed to have been written by Strangeways.

Strangeways developed an interest in the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis and in 1905 founded the Cambridge Research Hospital in order to study patients suffering from this and related conditions. Funded largely by Strangeways himself, noted doctors of his acquaintance, and donations from patients, the hospital began modestly with only six beds, and with research equipment located in renovated coal sheds. [3] [4] It closed briefly in 1908 due to lack of funding, but quickly reopened and moved to its current site in 1912 thanks to the support of Otto Beit and to its temporary repurposing as a hospital for military officers in World War I. The hospital returned to its research purpose in 1917. Later, in 1923, the clinical aspects of the laboratory's work were moved back to St Bartholomew's Hospital so that the laboratory could focus on then-newly developing technologies in tissue culture and cell biology. Having learned about tissue culture techniques from Alexis Carrel, Strangeways took great interest in the new field, including developing demonstrations of the technique for his lectures. After University of Edinburgh zoology student Honor Fell spent a summer working with him, he hired her as a research assistant; [5] :246–7 she would take over leadership of the laboratory following Strangeways' death in 1926. In the 1920s and 30s, the laboratory was the only British institution focused specifically on tissue culture technique, [3] [6] :63 the utility of which was a controversial topic among scientists of the time. [7]

Rheumatoid arthritis An arthritis that is an autoimmune disease which attacks healthy cells and tissue located in joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects joints. It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints. Pain and stiffness often worsen following rest. Most commonly, the wrist and hands are involved, with the same joints typically involved on both sides of the body. The disease may also affect other parts of the body. This may result in a low red blood cell count, inflammation around the lungs, and inflammation around the heart. Fever and low energy may also be present. Often, symptoms come on gradually over weeks to months.

Otto Beit British financier

Sir Otto John Beit, 1st Baronet, KCMG, FRS was a German-born British financier, philanthropist and art connoisseur.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Personal life

Strangeways became engaged to Dorothy Beck in 1901 and the couple married in 1902. [1] As of the construction of the new hospital building in 1912, they had two children. [4] Strangeways financed his laboratory out of his own earnings for most of his life, although he was not personally wealthy; a later director of the laboratory, John Dingle, wrote in a retrospective that "there is little doubt that his family suffered financially" from his investments, [8] although Dorothy was consistently supportive of the project. [5] :247–8 Strangeways died unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage in 1926. [3] [9]

John T. Dingle is a British biologist and rheumatologist. He joined the staff of the Strangeways Research Laboratory in 1959 as a research assistant to then-director Honor Fell, and later himself served as director from 1979 to 1993, taking over the position after the death of Michael Abercrombie. His presence at Strangeways helped to move its research direction toward the original research interests of its founder, Thomas Strangeways, who sought to understand the physiology of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, after many years in which the laboratory specialized more narrowly in tissue culture and cell biology. Dingle was the president of Hughes Hall from 1993 to 1998, and is an honorary fellow. He was the founding chairman of the British Connective Tissue Society, serving from 1980 to 1987. Among his notable trainees is University of California, San Francisco cell biologist Zena Werb, who was a postdoctoral fellow with Dingle and subsequently worked as a research assistant at Strangeways.

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