Sir John Crofton

37 – Sir John Crofton develops cure for TB


TUNE in to any Victorian/Edwardian-based TV drama and you can bet on someone dying of consumption.

This devastating illness struck terror into the hearts of people in this country right up until the middle of the 20th Century.

Hundreds of millions of lives have been claimed by tuberculosis over the last 200 years alone. As recently as the 1950s it was the biggest killer of young adults in the UK and it was particularly rife in working-class areas of Scotland.

But the disease met its match in Edinburgh when one man came up with a way to beat it.
Sir John Crofton was born in Ireland and raised in England, but it was his time working in Scotland that saw him make his breakthrough.

In 1951, he moved to Edinburgh where he became professor of respiratory diseases and tuberculosis at Edinburgh University amid a TB epidemic.

Within a year of moving to the capital he had secured more beds and appointments for TB patients.

His work led him to develop what became known worldwide as the “Edinburgh method” for beating the once-deadly disease.

There was initial disbelief at Sir John’s results – but only because they were so incredible.

Sir John’s work meant people could be cured with a combination of drugs and without the need for surgery.

His treatment went on to provide a model for similar combination therapies used in the treatment of illnesses such as cancer and HIV.

Sir John’s breakthrough treatment was a life-saver for millions and a game-changer in medical science.