David Landsborough Thomson

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David Landsborough Thomson F.R.S.C., (1901 - 1964) was a Canadian biochemist, best known for the co-discovery of Adrenocorticotropic hormone (adreno-cortical thyroid hormone or ACTH) and as the vice-principal of McGill University.[1][2] ACTH was co-discovered by Evelyn M. Anderson, James Bertram Collip and Thomson. In a paper published in 1933, they explained its function in the body.[3][4]

Born in Scotland, Thomson earned BSc and MA degrees from the University of Aberdeen, then a PhD in biochemistry from Cambridge University under the eye of Nobel laureate Frederick Gowland Hopkins.[5] After further studies in Europe, he moved to Montreal, joining the McGill faculty in 1928. At McGill, he was Gilman Cheney Professor of Biochemistry from 1937 to 1960, dean of the faculty of graduate studies and research from 1942 to 1963, and the vice-principal from 1955 to 1963. He served on the National Research Council of Canada, the Defence Research Board and the Scientific Research Bureau of Quebec. He received an honorary LL.D. in 1961 from the University of Saskatchewan.[4]

Like all British subjects then living in Canada, he became a Canadian with the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946.


Thomson published several highly cited papers in major journals, including The Lancet, BMJ, NATURE, CMAJ, and J. Physiol. Many of these were in collaboration with Collip, Hans Selye, or both. Topic areas included endocrinology (particularly antihormones), vitamins (he coined the term "Vitamin B complex" in a 1938 paper),[6]


  1. ^ "Register of the Evelyn Anderson Papers, 1918-1972". The Regents of the University of California. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  2. ^ Alison Li (2003). J.B. Collip and the development of medical research in Canada: extracts and enterprise. McGill-Queen’s Press. p. 65. ISBN 9780773571457.
  3. ^ James B. Collip; Evelyn Anderson; D. L. Thomson (12 August 1933). "The adrenotropic hormone of the anterior pituitary lobe". Lancet. 222 (5737): 347–348. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)44463-6.
  4. ^ a b "David Landsborough Thomson, Honorary Degree". University of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  5. ^ Thomson DL (17 May 1928). "The internal conductivity of non-irritable muscle". J. Physiol. 65 (2): 214–223. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1928.sp002471. PMC 1515048. PMID 16993947.
  6. ^ Thomson DL (June 1938). "The Vitamin B Complex". Can J Comp Med. 2 (6): 151–4. PMC 1701966. PMID 17647405.