Thomas McPherson Brown

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Thomas McPherson Brown (1906-1989) was a renowned rheumatologist who, over a medical career spanning 50 years, pioneered antibiotic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus and other collagen diseases. He used them to treat over ten thousand patients, often inducing remission in their disease.[1][2]

Brown graduated from Swarthmore College as a Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended Johns Hopkins Medical School. He did his medical residency also at Johns Hopkins. Subsequently, he did research at the Rockefeller Institute in NY. This research led Brown to conjecture a link between rheumatoid arthritis and cell wall deficient bacteria called mycoplasmas. Exploring that link would inspire the rest of his medical career. Work positions held by Brown after he left the Rockefeller Institute: Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Director of Arthritis Research at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C.; Professor of Medicine at George Washington School of Medicine in Washington D.C.; Department Chairman at the same university; Doctor at the Arthritis Institute of the National Hospital for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. Brown stopped teaching at George Washington University in 1970, in order to join the Arthritis Institute of the National Hospital for Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. Thereafter he devoted himself full-time to both researching the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and treating patients with the disease. Brown was also a member of the following institutions: American College of Rheumatology (of which he was one of the founding members), Arthritis Foundation (of which he was a Trustee).

During his lifetime, Brown published in medical journals approximately 100 papers about rheumatoid arthritis. In 1988, one year before his death, he published, in collaboration with Henry Scammell, a book entitled The Road Back. In 1993, Mr. Scammell published a book entitled The New Arthritis Breakthrough. This second book expands on The Road Back (it includes a reprint of The Road Back). Both books give many testimonials of people who believe they were saved by Brown's treatment. A video documentary featuring Brown explaining his treatment is available on the internet.

Throughout his long career, Brown fought an uphill battle to get the beneficial effects of his antibiotic treatments recognized by the medical establishment. This uphill battle is documented in the popular media [2][3][4]

The Road Back Foundation ( was founded to continue the work of Brown.

Since McPherson's death several high-quality clinical trials have demonstrated that long-term use of several tetracyclines delivers some small improvement in many patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These trials have recently been summarised by Stone at Toronto Western University.[5]


  • Brown, Thomas McPherson; Scammell, Henry (1988). The Road Back. New York, N.Y.: M. Evans and Company, Inc. ISBN 0-87131-543-2. 
  • Scammell, Henry (1998). The New Arthritis Breakthrough. New York, N.Y.: M. Evans and Company, Inc. (published 1993, 1998). ISBN 0-87131-843-1.  Check date values in: |publication-date= (help)


  1. ^ "JAYSON, rheumatoid arthritis". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b The Legacy of Thomas McPherson Brown, MD by Henry Scammell
  3. ^ "Thomas Brown, 82; Had Arthritis Theory". New York Times Obituary. The New York Times. April 20, 1989. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  4. ^ Bill Kent (February 1996). "Dr. Brown's Remedy". The Swarthmore College Bulletin. 
  5. ^ J Rheumatol. 2003 Oct;30(10):2112-22.Should tetracycline treatment be used more extensively for rheumatoid arthritis? Stone M, Fortin PR, Pacheco-Tena C, Inman RD.Metaanalysis demonstrates clinical benefit with reduction in disease activity.