After voting in the £50 Note Zone, it’s time to tell the Bank of England what you think:
Put me on the note because I made transplants possible!
I was born on 28th February 1915 in Brazil, not far from Rio de Janeiro
I worked as a research Professor in Oxford, London and Birmingham
My research into immune tolerance and rejection paved the way for making transplants possible
I studied the human body, zoology and experimental medicine
One sentence about me: I was a British-Lebanese researcher who made the Nobel Prize-winning discovery that made transplants possible and gave the public an insight into research through my popular science books.
Sir Peter Brian Medawar was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose work led to transplants being possible. But he didn’t stop there, he also wrote insightful books about life inside the lab and would happily argue with a criticise any idea or work he took issue with. For example, he felt the idea of I.Q. was too simplistic, something which lots of research now backs up. He also studied and published perceptively on ageing, something that is still poorly understood.
He married his wife, Jean Shinglewood Taylor, at 22 and they remained together until Medawar died in 1987. They had two daughters Caroline and Louise, and two sons, Charles and Alexander. Lots of people remarked that Medawar was extremely witty and he even made a joke after he had a stroke in the middle of giving a lecture that it was “monstrous bad luck” as the stroke came too early for him to benefit from beta-blockers, a type of treatment that became widely used a few years after his stroke.
In his spare time Medawar loved to follow philosophy, cricket and opera, but he really was a scientist at heart. He considered doing experiments to be nothing more than ‘messing about’, but also really cared about other people. He wanted as many people as possible to know about science and research so that they could get involved and was first inspired to work on skin grafts after seeing soldiers injured during the Second World War. He is quoted as saying: “A scientist who wants to do something original and important must experience, as I did, some kind of shock that forces upon his intention the kind of problem that it should be his duty and will become his pleasure to investigate.”. The shock he mentions is seeking young soldiers after a plane crash.
Vote for me:
Please vote for ‘Peter Medawar’, and either put your own reason why or say ‘For wanting to help wounded soldiers by carrying out research that made transplants possible and for opening up the world of research to the public for the first time.’
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Always thinking ahead
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Seeing patients benefit from transplants, and winning the Nobel, of course!
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I liked science at school because it seemed lots of my classmates, whom I found unpleasant, liked sports. My biology teacher was also very, very good and convinced me to go to Oxford. There I was inspired by my zoology teacher, John Z. Young, and later by Howard Florey, who helped discover penicillin and made me want to follow immunology.
Were you ever in trouble for anything?
I was often in hot water for my critiques of other people's work, but I maintain that I was nothing but honest!
Tell us something people might not know about me?
I was not officially awarded by PhD because I could not afford the £25 fee,
You may also remember me from...
I gave the BBC Reith lectures in 1959 and wrote lots of popular books about science and research, including "Advice to a Young Scientist" and "The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice", which my nominator tells me still rings true to young researchers today
I'm being championed by:
Dr Leah Fitzsimmons, University of Birmingham