Biosciences News and Events Publication
- CDB: 2011 Young Embryologist Network Meeting
- SMB: A new paradigm for how genes are read – ‘the elongation-first hypothesis’
- Speak Up! The 2011 National Student Survey seeks your views
- NPP research featured in BBC's The Secret World of Pain
- GEE: Simple marine worms distantly related to humans
- NPP: Student awarded Bogue Research Fellowship
- Biosciences win three Wellcome Image Awards
- UCL voted best place for postdocs to work
- CDB: JZ Young Memorial Lecture, Friday March 18 - all welcome
- Biosciences wins three prizes in Graduate School Research Poster Competition
- NPP: Student wins Scientific Research Prize
- Opportunity for Outstanding Young Neuroscientist
- Sponsorship of Fellowship applications invited for Early Career Scientists
- Former UCL Biosciences PhD student wins most promising thesis award
- Annals of Human Genetics archive opened
- What do romantic love and appreciation of artistic beauty have in common?
- Prof Steve Jones elected to membership of the American Philosophical Society
- Crossing your arms 'relieves hand pain'
- Dr Julia Day gives an insight into her research on biodiversity
- UCL gains awards in a major new funding scheme
- UCL launches its open access repository
- Dr Samuel Lee's book, Motherhood in the 21st Century: A Stock Take, is now available
- The National Student Survey (NSS) website is now live
- UCL and Apple - 'A Class Partnership'
- Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment appoints three new Professional Chairs
- Lab Techniques in Mammalian Cell Biology
- Multi-scale Biomolecular Modelling Lecture Series - May
- FRS for Gabriel Waksman and Steve Jones
- Walking with Gosse
- Innovation Awards
- Animal model of human evolution indicates thick hair mutation emerged 30,000 years ago
- Don't miss the Biosciences Module Fair - Wednesday 20th March
- The Sammy Lee Memorial Lecture at The Young Embryologist Meeting, 31 May 2013
- Obituary: Professor David Wilkie, born 6th August 1923, died 3rd March 2013
- Winners announced in Biosciences Poster Competition
- Green Impact Award for Biosciences (Darwin Building)
- New Student Hub opens in Anatomy Building
- Professor Bill Richardson elected Fellow of the Royal Society
- Employability skills video
- Alumni Event at London Zoo
- Will we ever be able to escape the diseases of old age?
- Cycling Ambassador Bike Days in July
- Provost opens new JBS Haldane Student Hub in Anatomy Building
- Two places available on the CPD course Lab Techniques in Mammalian Cell Biology
- Appointment of new Faculty Tutor
- Senior Academic and Research Promotions
- Prof Gabriel Waksman elected to German Academy of Sciences
- Faculty Research Day, 17 Sept 2013
- New Director of Division appointed
- Obituary: Prof Bastien Gomperts
- Weekly Neighbourhood meetings for Anatomy and MedSci & LMCB Building refurbishments
- UCL Biosciences Module Fair 2014
- SLMS Photography Competition: Photosynthesis
Obituary: Professor David Wilkie, born 6th August 1923, died 3rd March 2013
5 April 2013
My colleague David Wilkie who died recently at the age of 89 was an extraordinary and endearing character. As an undergraduate at Glasgow University he played football for Queens Park, then an amateur club in the professional Scottish league, having previously represented Scotland as a schoolboy. David's studies were interrupted in 1942 when, at the age of just 19, he volunteered for service in the RAF.
Following training on Spitfires in South Africa David was transferred to Burma where he flew Hurricanes in the war against Japan. When the war ended he remained in the Far East where he flew Dakotas and DC3's and helped evacuate prisoners of war from the infamous Changi prison in Singapore. During this period David was the personal pilot to Air Officer Commanding (AOC) RAF Burma, Hugh Saunders (later Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Saunders). Pilot Officer Wilkie returned to Scotland in December 1946 saying that he had flown every day for four years and never wanted to fly again. He never did.
After completing his undergraduate studies David remained in Glasgow where he joined the laboratory of the distinguished geneticist Guido Pontecorvo who was then engaged in the fine structure mapping of genes in the the ascomycete fungus, Aspergillus nidulans. His PhD complete, David was appointed in 1954 to a Lectureship in the Department of Botany, University College London where he was to remain for his entire academic career.
UCL David initially continued research on the genetics of Aspergillus
showing among other things that the mutagenic wavelength of UV light was
260 nm rather than 280 nm and, thus, was inducing changes in nucleic
acid and not protein. In 1959-1960 a Rockefeller Foundation Visiting
Fellowship to the Genetics Department of the University of Washington,
Seattle signalled a change of research direction. In Seattle David came
under the 'inspired guidance' (his words) of Herschel Roman and Don
Hawthorne who were among a small group of geneticists who foresaw the
enormous research potential of working with a single celled organism,
the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Over the next ten years
David's work explored the possibility that, in addition to genes located
on the chromosomes in the nucleus, yeast also possessed genes in the
mitochondrion, the organelle that generates most of the cell's energy.
This was a risky, even foolhardy, research venture in the early 1960's
but with typical patience and resourcefulness David was able to show
that not only did such genes exist, but also that they were linked
together on a small mitochondrial 'chromosome.' By 1963 the work had
advanced sufficiently to publish a monograph entitled The Cytoplasm in
Heredity which was the standard reference in this area for a number of
Mitochondria remained the focus of David's research for the next 30 years (he often described himself as a 'mitochondriac'). From the 1970's his thoughts increasingly turned to the role of mitochondria in cancer; in particular as targets for chemotherapy. Once again, this was a controversial topic albeit one that has received increasing credence as more and more is understood about these fascinating organelles. Throughout David's career at UCL he was a much loved undergraduate teacher, a kind and generous mentor to postgraduate students and a patient and meticulous examiner. David retired from UCL in 1988 but carried on his research a couple of days a week in a corner of my lab. My students loved having him around; perhaps in part because there was always shortbread for afternoon tea!
I feel honoured to have shared my working life with such a distinguished scientist and such a remarkable man.
Jeremy S Hyams
Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology, UCL
Page last modified on 05 apr 13 12:45