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Thomas Hodgkin

For the British historian, his nephew, with the same name, see Thomas Hodgkin.

Thomas Hodgkin (August 17, 1798 - April 5, 1866) was a British physician and considered one of the most prominent pathologists of his time and a pioneer in preventive medicine. He is now best known for the first account of Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphoma and blood disease, in 1832. Hodgkin's work marked the beginning of times when a pathologist was actively involved in the clinical process. He was a contemporary of Thomas Addison and Richard Bright at Guy's Hospital.


Thomas Hodgkin was born to a Quaker family in Pentonville, St. James Parish, Middlesex. He received private education and, in September 1819 he was admitted to St. Thomas's and Guy's Medical School, now part of King's College London. He also studied at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1821, he went to Italy and France, where he learned to work with the stethoscope, a recent invention of René Laënnec. In 1823, Hodgkin qualified for his M.D. at Edinburgh with a thesis on the physiological mechanisms of absorption in animals.

  There is a Blue plaque on his house in Bedford Square, London.


Hodgkin described the disease that bears his name (Hodgkin's lymphoma) in 1832, in a paper titled On Some Morbid Appearances of the Absorbent Glands and Spleen. He received 33 years later the eponym through the recognition of British physician Samuel Wilks, who rediscovered the disease. It is a malignancy that produces enlargement of lymphoid tissue, spleen, and liver, with invasion of other tissues. A more benign form is called Hodgkin’s paragranuloma, while a more invasive form is called Hodgkin's sarcoma.

He published as a book his Lectures on Morbid Anatomy in 1836 and 1840. His greatest contribution to the teaching of pathology, however, was made in 1829, with his two volumed work entitled The Morbid Anatomy of Serous and Mucous Membranes, which became a classic in modern pathology.

Hodgkin was one of the earliest defenders of preventive medicine, having published On the Means of Promoting and Preserving Health in book form in 1841. Among other early observations were the first description of acute appendicitis, of the biconcave format of red blood cells and the striation of muscle fibers.


    • ODNB article by Amalie M. Kass, ‘Hodgkin, Thomas (1798–1866)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1], accessed 22 Sept 2007.
    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thomas_Hodgkin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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