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Hepatitis B Foundation Mourns the Loss of Pioneering Hepatitis B Physician-Scientist Dr. W. Thomas London

Dr. London was Long-time Board Member, Medical Advisor, and Mentor

DOYLESTOWN, PA (June 3, 2017): W. Thomas London, MD, an internationally renowned physician-scientist dedicated to the study of hepatitis B, passed away June 3 at the age of 85. Dr. London was a key member of the research team that discovered the hepatitis B virus in the early 1960s, and longtime member of the Board of the Hepatitis B Foundation and its research arm, the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, where he also served as a distinguished scientific and medical advisor. Dr. London represented the very best in a doctor and scientist - sincere compassion, and successful achievement in advancing the cause and cure of hepatitis B. His wisdom and guidance will be greatly missed. 

W. Thomas London

“This is a terrible loss. Tom London was not only one of the finest medical and scientific minds, but a gracious, caring doctor, who always had time for patients and fellows, no matter how busy he was," said Timothy Block, PhD, President, Hepatitis B Foundation and its Blumberg Institute. “He was a role model, and an inspiration for me, and for a generation. One of a kind.” 

In the 1966, Dr. London left his position at the National Institute of Health (NIH) to work with Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Dr. London and colleagues made the first correlation between a then newly identified virus and hepatitis, a serious infection of the liver. Dr. Blumberg went on to receive the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the new hepatitis B virus, but always acknowledged the critical role of Dr. London in linking the new virus to a clinical disease known as “hepatitis” or serious liver inflammation.

Dr. London remained at Fox Chase where his research contributed to linking the hepatitis B  virus to primary liver cancer, and continued to work on epidemiologic studies and large community-based screening and vaccination programs in the Philadelphia area, Haimen City, China, and Senegal, West Africa. Those programs have become models of public health outreach in the effort to prevent and control an infectious disease like hepatitis B.

In 2009, Dr. London retired from Fox Chase as a Senior Member, after which he volunteered his professional time working with the public health professionals at the Hepatitis B Foundation and research scientists at the Blumberg Institute, both headquartered in Doylestown, PA. He devoted his entire career to research on the etiology, pathogenesis, and prevention of primary liver cancer (or hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) with particular emphasis on the epidemiology of chronic hepatitis B infection.

In 2015, to recognize the extraordinary contributions of Dr. London, the Blumberg Institute created the W. Thomas London Distinguished Professorship.  At the ceremony to celebrate the named professorship, Harvey Alter, MD, eminent scientist at the NIH and co-discoverer of the hepatitis B virus (and C virus), described the seminal contributions of Dr. London as "world changing in magnitude, but done quietly, and modestly."

“Dr. London inspired my career in infectious disease,” says Nathaniel Brown, MD, infectious disease physician, retired pharmaceutical executive focused on hepatitis B drug development, and Board Member of the Hepatitis B Foundation. "This is a great loss for the hepatitis B community."

Dr. London is a graduate of Oberlin College and Cornell University Medical College. He received his clinical training in Internal Medicine at Bellevue Hospital and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. His work has resulted in more than 285 publications, election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, editor of prestigious peer-reviewed cancer journals, and many awards. He was a resident of Wyncote, PA, and is survived by his wife Linda, with whom he just celebrated 60 years of marriage, and their 4 daughters and 8 grandchildren.

Relatives and friends are invited to memorial services on Thursday, June 8 at 2:00 pm at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael Sacks, 6410 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19126. Immediately following services, the family will host a reception. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Hepatitis B Foundation, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902, www.hepb.org, or to the Cheltenham Township Adult School, 500 Rices Mill Road, Wyncote, PA 19095, www.cheltenhamtownshipadultschool.org    


About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at http://hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900.

About the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute: The Baruch S. Blumberg Institute is an independent, nonprofit research institute established in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation to fulfill its research mission and to conduct discovery research and nurture translational biotechnology in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. It was renamed in 2013 to honor Baruch S. Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus and co-founded the Hepatitis B Foundation. To learn more, visit www.blumberginstitute.org.

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