Resolving the Cholesterol Controversy By Gilbert R Thompson (Imperial College London, UK)

Resolving the Cholesterol Controversy By Gilbert R Thompson (Imperial College London, UK)

Resolving the Cholesterol Controversy recounts the science and scientific personalities behind the chain of discoveries upon which the lipid hypothesis of atherosclerosis was built.

The narrative covers a period of just under 100 years, starting with Anitschkow's experiments with cholesterol-fed rabbits in 1913, and recounts the endeavours and achievements of the leading actors in this protracted scientific drama. The cast is drawn from an extraordinary variety of scientific disciplines: pathology, biophysics, epidemiology, nutrition, cardiology, lipidology, genetics, microbiology, pharmacology, and clinical trial design. Most of the scientists believed that cholesterol played a causal role in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, but there were some who dissented strongly from this conclusion.

The breadth of scientific disciplines involved in proving the lipid hypothesis is matched by the geographical spread of the participants. Anitschkow worked in Russia, Endo discovered the first statin in Japan, their commercial development by Merck took place in the USA and evidence of benefit from lowering cholesterol came from trials conducted in Scandinavia and the UK. The subsequent meta-analysis of these statin trials in 2005 proved the validity of the lipid hypothesis beyond any doubt. The history of how this all came about and its impact upon health policy and medical practice is recalled here in Resolving the Cholesterol Controversy. 

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Gilbert R Thompson currently holds the title of Emeritus Professor of Clinical Lipidology at the Hammersmith Hospital campus of Imperial College London. He has been the Chairman of both the British Hyperlipidaemia Association (now HEART UK) and the British Atherosclerosis Society.

He received the Lucian Award for Research in Cardiovascular Diseases of McGill University, Montreal in 1981 and is the Founding Editor of Current Opinion in Lipidology 1990–1994 and was Associate Editor of The Journal of Lipid Research 1994–1998.

He has edited several books including Noble Prizes that Changed Medicine (2012) and Pioneers of Medicine without a Noble Prize (2014). He is the author of The Cholesterol Controversy (2008) and Medicine My Vocation, Fishing My Recreation (2020).