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Dame Janet Vaughan (main image)© National Portrait Gallery

Image © National Portrait Gallery 


Studied pre-clinical medicine at Somerville College, University of Oxford, received her clinical training at UCL.

Research area

Haematology and radiation pathology.


  • Vaughan was an expert in blood diseases and blood transfusion. Her 1934 book The Anaemias, was one of the first on specialised treatments of blood diseases.
  • Throughout the Second World War, Vaughan worked in clinical pathology in Hammersmith Hospital. She designed a system of blood banks, and ran blood supply services for north-west London.
  • In 1945 she went to Belgium to investigate the treatment of starvation, and was working in the Belsen concentration camp in Germany when the war ended.
  • Vaughan was Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, from 1945 to 1967. When she retired, 40% of Somerville undergraduates were reading science or mathematics, a huge increase from 1945. The total number of fellows at the college had doubled.
  • She was a recognised world authority on the effects of plutonium, and provided evidence for the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Her books on the subject include The Physiology of Bone (1970) and The Effects of Radiation on the Skeleton (1973).

Further reading