Oxford, the Mecca for blood coagulation research in the 1950s and 1960s
Gwyn Macfarlane was undoubtedly the instigator of blood coagulation research at Oxford during the last century. From his earliest paper in 1931 on a survey of hemophilia , he engendered an interest in the diagnosis and treatment of hemophilia. Joined by Rosemary Biggs in the mid 1940s, together they embarked on blood coagulation research. The fascination that blood coagulation had for its devotees is best described in the words of Biggs : To begin with the spontaneous transformation of ﬂuid blood to a solid clot has a stimulating effect on the curiosity like that produced by a well executed conjuring trick. One feels that so simple and striking a phenomenon must have a simple and striking explanation, and the urge to discover it is immediate. Next, there is the deceptive ease with which the work can be started. All that is needed is a few glass tubes and a watch, a supply of blood and ingenuity. They augmented their coagulation research by pioneering replacement therapy for hemophilia and set the stage for the Mecca for blood coagulation research that Oxford was to become in the 1950s and 1960s. Naturally, hemophilics ﬂocked to the Oxford area like moths to a light, to be near to where they could obtain the best available treatment in the UK, so that by 1960 half the total number of hemophiliacs in the UK were treated at Oxford. For their part they provided a very largedatabaseofhemophiliaAandBpatients.Moreandmore patients with unusual hemostatic defects were also referred to Oxford, the plasma samples from whom provided useful tools in subsequent research.