Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison (1793 – 1860) was an English physician.

A master of clinical observation and revered in medical history for his discoveries of Addison’s Disease 1855 and Addison’s Anaemia 1849. Sadly, he never saw the fame or recognition he deserved during his lifetime.

His teaching ability contributed to the fame of Guy’s Hospital as a school of medicine. Retiring from his work he revealed to his students:

…a considerable breakdown in my health has scared me from the anxieties, responsibilities and excitement of my profession

  • Born April 1793 (?1795) in Long Benton, near Newcastle. Educated at Newcastle grammar school.
  • 1815 – Graduated with a doctor’s degree in medicine from the university of Edinburgh aged 22. His thesis was “de siphilide” written in latin. He became house surgeon to Lock Hospital, London, and worked with the great dermatologist, Bateman.
  • 1820 – at the age of 27 became associated with Guy’s hospital, probably only as a student
  • 1824 – appointed physician assistant at Guys hospital at the age of 31
  • 1827 – lectured on Materia Medica at the same institution
  • 1829 – wrote his first book in English on the action of poisons on the living body
  • 1837 – age 42 he became physician to Guy’s hospital and joint lecturer on medicine with Dr Richard Bright. First used static electricity in treatment of spasmodic and convulsive illnesses.
  • 1839 – at the age of 46 he described appendicitis
  • 1849 – Described pernicious anaemia and disease of suprarenal capsules (melasma suprarenale or Addison disease), in a paper before the south London’s medical society
  • 1860 – died at the age of 67 he committed suicide shortly after retiring. He was buried in Lauercost Abbey, Cumberland.

Medical Eponyms
Addison’s anemia (1849)

Addison’s anaemia – otherwise known as pernicious anaemia occurs when the body cannot absorb enough vitamin B12, leading to the body’s inability to produce enough red blood cells. This form of anaemia was not fully understood in Addison’s lifetime, his description of “idiopathic anaemia” seen in the Medical Gazette in 1849:

Major Publications


Date of birth 1793, 1795


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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