Thomas John MacLagan

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Thomas John MacLagan (1838–1903) was a Scottish doctor and pharmacologist from Dundee.

He was medical superintendent at Dundee Royal Infirmary from 1864 to 1866, during which time he had to cope with a major fever epidemic and became noted for pioneering the clinical use of thermometers.

He carried out research into the effect of salicin, an extract from willow bark and a known anti-rheumatic treatment. This work was followed by Carl Thiersch, and in 1874 salicylic acid was synthesised, the active ingredient in Aspirin.

He later established a practice in London and treated patients like Thomas Carlyle and the royal family. At the time of his death in 1903, it was said that he "deserves a niche in the Temple of Fame as one of the great benefactors of the human race."

Maclagan's original microscope is in the collection of the Tayside Medical History Museum.[1][2]


  1. Thomas Maclagan on the Local Pioneers webpage of the Tayside Medical History Museum
  2. University of Dundee : External Relations : Press Office