Janet Vaughan

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Vaughan in 1963

Dame Janet Maria Vaughan DBE FRS[1] (18 October 1899 – 9 January 1993) was a British physiologist.[2][3]

Vaughan was educated at home, and later at North Foreland Lodge and Somerville College, Oxford, where she studied medicine under Charles Sherrington and J. B. S. Haldane.

Later she received a scolarhip from the Rockefeller Foundation to study at Harvard University.[4]

As a female doctor, discovered that she had difficulties gaining access to the patients and experimented on pigeons. Virginia Woolf described her as 'an attractive woman; competent, disinterested, taking blood tests all day to solve abstract problems'.[4]

As a young pathologist at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital in 1938 she initiated creation of national blood banks in London. The modified milk bottle for blood collection and storage was named "MRC bottle" or "Janet Vaughan".[4]

From 1945 until her retirement in 1967, she was Principal of Somerville College. She was made DBE in 1957, and elected FRS in 1979.[1] She was Principal while Margaret Roberts studied there - a student who would later become British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Personal life[edit]

She married David Gourlay, of the Wayfarers' Travel Agency, in 1930; they had two daughters.


  1. ^ a b Owen, M. (1995). "Dame Janet Maria Vaughan, D. B. E. 18 October 1899-9 January 1993". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 41: 482–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1995.0029.  edit
  2. ^ Evelyn Irons, Obituary: Dame Janet Vaughan, The Independent, 12 January 1993.
  3. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/42277.  edit Born in Clifton, Bristol, she was the daughter of William Wyamar Vaughan, a cousin of Virginia Woolf and later headmaster of Rugby
  4. ^ a b c Starr, D (1998). Blood: An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce. Little, Brown and company. pp. 84–87. ISBN 0 316 91146 1. 

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