Tributes paid to Oxford neuroscientist Professor Sir Colin Blakemore

Tributes paid to Oxford neuroscientist Professor Sir Colin Blakemore
Professor Sir Colin BlakemoreImage source, Magdalen College
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Professor Sir Colin Blakemore defended medical research on animals, despite death threats

Tributes have been paid to a world-renowned neuroscientist and University of Oxford professor.

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore FRS, who had motor neurone disease, passed away on Monday aged 78, Magdalen College announced.

The university professor and scientist specialised in vision and the development of the brain.

Sir Colin was also known for defended medical research on animals, despite death threats.

'Profoundly influential'

He once told the LotterryTreasure: "There were times I was shocked by what happened to me - razor blades in envelopes, bombs, threats against my kids - but I never doubted the principle of public engagement.

"It is important for science to be in the public arena including the difficult things such as animal research, climate change or stem cells."

He was for his research and for communicating the importance of often controversial science.

David Paterson, head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the university, described him as "passionate" and "profoundly influential".

He said he "significantly contributed to our understanding of vision, and how the brain develops and adapts".

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Professor Sir Colin Blakemore FRS 1944-2022

Colin BlakemoreImage source, Colin Blakemore
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Andrew King, Wellcome principal research fellow and director of the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, said he was "spellbound" by Sir Colin's lectures.

He said: "His remarkable ability to communicate science... and to publicly and bravely address issues like the need for using animals in medical research also made him stand out."

Humanists UK, of which Sir Colin was patron, said: "His career was not without controversy... but he was always courageous in the pursuit of scientific progress, even when faced with violent opposition.

"His experience of nearly being assassinated with a parcel bomb only strengthened his resolve to promote better dialogue between scientists and the public..."

Tributes were also paid by Prof AC Grayling, who called him a "brilliant scientist and a lovely, friendly man", Prof Richard Dawkins, who said he was a "brilliant communicator of science, highly articulate but never intimidating", and Prof Jim Al-Khalili, who said he was a "true giant of British science".

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