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The passing of ProfessorThomas Hamilton Bothwell

- Wits University

Wits University will pay a tribute to outstanding scientist, Professor Thomas Hamilton Bothwell who died on 12 November 2016.

The University last week learnt of the passing of Thomas Hamilton Bothwell, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at Wits.

The University’s flag will be lowered and fly at half-mast on Friday, 25 November 2016 in memory of Professor Bothwell who died on Saturday, 12 November 2016, aged 90. 

An internationally acclaimed scientist, an outstanding clinician, a natural leader and an inspiring teacher, Professor Bothwell was the Head of Department of Internal Medicine from 1967 to 1991. At the same time he was also Chief Physician at the Johannesburg Hospital (today the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital). He was Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences from 1992 to 1993. He devoted much of his academic career, spanning more than 50 years, to the pursuit of scientific research aimed at improving the health and well-being of major sections of the world’s population. 

Professor Thomas Bothwell obtained his MBBCh in 1948 from Wits. His major research thrust was investigating iron metabolism. He pioneered the use of radioactivity as a tool to investigate iron metabolism, while still a medical registrar, was among the first in the world to describe radioiron kinetics in haemochromatosis and in normal iron metabolism.

Professor Bothwell wrote more than 250 articles in the field of iron metabolism, 50 chapters in international textbooks, and two books and invited reviews on many aspects of this subject. His outstanding contribution to science earned him an honorary doctorate in medicine from Wits in 1994, a Gold Award from the SA Medical Research Council, a medal from the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, a Biannual Award of the Nutrition Society of South Africa and, in 2005, he received a gold award from the Academy of Science of South Africa.

He is survived by his wife, Alix, three children and grandchildren.


To commemorate the life of Professor Thomas Bothwell, a tribute will be held as follows:

Date: Friday, 25 November 2016

Time: 13:00 – 14:00

Venue: Faculty of Health Sciences, Medical School, Len Miller Lecture Theatre, 9th Floor