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The Mill Hill days: changes in immunology


The move to Mill Hill
Avrion Mitchison Scientist
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Peter had taken on the Directorship of Mill Hill. He was planning to move. He moved to University College from Birmingham and he was moving to the National Institute of Medical Research. I remember- no, I won't talk about that, about his motives for the- doesn't concern the story. He'd offered the job to another bloke in Birmingham who had so much money of his own that he had decided, for taxation reasons, to return to the Channel Islands, so he was left without somebody to head the department which had been engaged in reproductive biology. But he saw would make a good place for him to work, so he wanted somebody to run a small outfit in which he would fit. And, I was- so he invited me to come down and join him. And I was thrilled to do that, because you've only got to look at the National Institute of Medial Research at that time, probably still today, to see that it is a fantastic place for doing research. But now, you were to build this division of experimental biology into an immunology division. How did that- what were you recruited to do there? Nobody ever said anything much about that. You could do what you liked. But I think they, kind of, assumed that I would build it into a- into an immunology division. Because there was an immunology division. That's right. There was an immunology division run by John Humphrey. A very nice man. A very good friend. And the last thing I wanted to do was to compete with John or make life difficult for him. And I suppose if I'd thought about it, I would've realised that perhaps it wouldn't have been that easy, but on the other hand, since we were good friends and since, at that time, immunology was hopping, as it is, still is today, having two divisions working on it didn't seem to be a grave error. In any case, as you may remember, because you came there, there was a bit of the old division, the old reproductive biology left over then. Bob Edwards was still- stayed on for a year or two, and he, of course, was doing work, which I certainly at the time, didn't realise quite what an important part it would have in the future, when he became the guru of- IVF. Yes. Of IVF, yes.

Avrion Mitchison, the British zoologist, is currently Professor Emeritus at University College London and is best known for his work demonstrating the role of lymphocytes in tumour rejection and for the separate and cooperative roles of T- and B-lymphocytes in this and other processes.

Listeners: Martin Raff

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Duration: 2 minutes, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008