Dorothy “Dottie” Thomas was wife and research partner to 1990 Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas, MD, pioneer of the bone marrow transplant and former Director of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. and Mrs. Thomas formed the core of a team that proved bone marrow transplantation could cure leukemias and other blood cancers, work that spanned several decades.
Mrs. Thomas was a journalism major in college when in March 1943, Don was admitted to Harvard University Medical School under a U.S. Army program. “Dottie and I talked it over, and we decided that if we were going to spend time together, she probably ought to change her profession,” Don told The Seattle Times in a 1999 interview. “She’d taken a lot of science in her time in school.”
Mrs. Thomas enrolled in the medical technology training program at New England Deaconess Hospital. She worked as a medical technician for some doctors in Boston until eventually Dr. Thomas had his own laboratory, and then she began to work with him.
“Dottie was there at Don’s side through every part of developing marrow transplantation as a science,” said Fred Appelbaum, MD.
Dr. Thomas joined Fred Hutchinson in 1975, the year its doors opened in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood. For the next 15 years, Mrs. Thomas served as the Chief Administrator for the Hutchinson Clinical Research Division. Dr. Thomas stepped down from the clinical leadership position in 1990 and retired from Fred Hutchinson in 2002. ■