|Born||9 January 1921|
|Died||25 January 2006 (aged 85)|
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
King's College, Cambridge
|Known for||Coombs test;|
|Awards||Gairdner Foundation International Award (1965)|
|Institutions||Corpus Christi College, Cambridge|
Robert Royston Amos Coombs FRS FRCPath FRCP (9 January 1921 – 25 January 2006) was a British immunologist, co-discoverer of the Coombs test (1945) used for detecting antibodies in various clinical scenarios, such as Rh disease and blood transfusion.
He was born in London and studied veterinary medicine at the University of Edinburgh. In 1943 he entered King's College, Cambridge, where he commenced work on a doctorate, which he gained in 1947. Before finishing his doctorate, he developed and published methods to detect antibodies with Arthur Mourant and Robert Russell Race in 1945. This is the test now referred to as the Coombs test, which, according to the legend, was first devised while Coombs was travelling on the train.
Coombs became a professor and researcher at the Department of Pathology of University of Cambridge, becoming a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, and a founder of its Division of Immunology. He was appointed the fourth Quick Professor of Biology in 1966 and continued to work at Cambridge University until 1988. He is reported to have said that "[r]ed blood cells were primarily designed by God as tools for the immunologist and only secondarily as carriers of haemoglobin".
He received honorary doctoral degrees by the University of GuelphCanada, and the University of Edinburgh and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom (1965), a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.
Coombs was married to Anne Blomfield, his first graduate student. They had a son and a daughter.
The Coombs test, which he developed and published together with Arthur Mourant and Robert Russell Race in 1945, has formed the base of a large number of laboratory investigations in the fields of hematology and immunology.
Together with Professor Philip George Howthern Gell, he developed a classification of immune mechanisms of tissue injury, now known as the "Gell–Coombs classification", comprising four types of reactions.
- Lachmann, P.; Waldmann, H. (2009). "Robert Royston Amos (Robin) Coombs. 9 January 1921 -- 25 January 2006". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 55: 45–58. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2008.0021.
- "Robert Royston Amos Coombs". Munks Roll – Lives of the Fellows. Royal College of Physicians: Royal College of Physicians. XII: 584. 6 June 1967. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- Coombs RR, Mourant AE, Race RR (1945). "Detection of weak and "incomplete" Rh agglutinins: a new test". Lancet. 246 (6358): 15–6. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(45)90806-3.
- Pincock S (2006). "Robert Royston Amos (Robin) Coombs". Lancet. 367 (9518): 1234. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68528-0.
- Kasfiki, Eirini; et al. (2019). 250 cases in clinical medicine. Elsevier. p. 879.
- "Honorary members". www.immunology.org. British Society for Immunology.
- Coombs RR (1998). "Historical note: past, present and future of the antiglobulin test". Vox Sang. 74 (2): 67–73. doi:10.1159/000030908. PMID 9501403.
- Gell PG, Coombs RR (1963). Clinical Aspects of Immunology. London: Blackwell.
- Coombs RR, Parish WE, Walls AF (2000). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Could a healthy infant succumb to inhalation-anaphylaxis during sleep leading to cot death?. Cambridge Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-9540081-0-3.