Blakemore, Colin (Brian) 1944-

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BLAKEMORE, Colin (Brian) 1944-

PERSONAL: Born June 1, 1944, in Stratford-on-Avon, England; son of Cedric Norman and Beryl (Smith) Blakemore; married Andrée Elizabeth Washbourne, August 28, 1965; children: Sarah Jayne, Sophie Ann, Jessica Katy. Education: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, B.A., 1965, M.A., 1969; University of California—Berkeley, Ph.D., 1968. Hobbies and other interests: Running marathons, the arts.

ADDRESSES: Office—University Lab of Physiology, Parks Rd., Oxford OX1 3PT, England. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, demonstrator at Physiological Laboratory, 1968-72, lecturer, beginning 1972, fellow and director of medical studies at Downing College, 1977-79; Oxford University, Oxford, England, Waynflete Professor of Physiology, 1979—, and director of Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, 1990-2003; Medical Research Council, London, England, Chief Executive, 2003—. Visiting professor at New York University, 1970, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1971; visiting scientist, Salk Institute, San Diego, CA, 1982, 1983, 1992; McLaughlin visiting professor, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, 1992; Regents' professor, University of California—Davis, 1995-96; member of British Broadcasting Corp. Science Consultative Group, 1975-79 and Reith Lecturer for BBC, 1976; Lethaby Professor at Royal College of Art, 1978. Member of several advisory committees, including Schizophrenia: A National Emergency (SANE), 1983-2003, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, 1996—, European Dana Alliance for the Brain, 1996—, UK Forum for Genetics and Insurance, 1998—, Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, 1999-2000, Royal Society Science in Society Committee, 2001—, Sense about Science, 2002—.

MEMBER: International Brain Research Organization (member of governing council, 1973—; member of executive committee, 1979-91), International Society on Infant Studies, Council of Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (member of council, 1998-2000), European Biomedical Research Association (founding member), European Neuroscience Association, Society for Neuroscience, European Brain and Behaviour Society (member of committee, 1974-76), National Conference of University Professors, British Association for the Advancement of Science (vice president, 1990-97 and 1998-2001; treasurer, 1993; president, 1997-98; chair, 2000—), British Neuroscience Association (formerly Brain Research Association; member of national committee, 1973-77, and 1997-2003; president, 1997-2000), Physiological Society (president, 2001—), Experimental Psychology Society, Oxford Medical Society, Cambridge Philosophical Society (member of council, 1975—), Child Vision Resource Society, Sigma Xi, Biosciences Federation (president, 2003—).

AWARDS, HONORS: Robert Bing Prize for Research in Neurology, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, 1975; Locke Research Fellowship, Royal Society, 1976-79; Copeman Medal for Medical Research, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1977; Richardson Cross Medal, Southwestern Ophthalmological Society, 1978; named Man of the Year by Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, 1978; Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science, 1978; Honorary President, World Cultural Council, 1983—; Netter Prize, Academie Nationale de Medecine (France), 1984; Michael Faraday Award and Medal, 1989; G. L. Brown Prize, Physiological Society, 1990; John P. McGovern Science and Society Medal, Sigma Xi, 1990; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1992; Osler Medal, 1993; Ellison-Cliffe Medal, 1993; Foreign Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1993; Charles F. Prentice Award, 1994; Annual Review Prize, Physiological Society, 1995; member of the Academia Europaea, 1995; Honorary Member, Alpha Omega Honor Medical Society, 1996; Alcon Prize, Alcon Research Institute, 1996; fellow of the Institute of Biology, 1996; Memorial Medal, Charles University (Prague, Czechoslovakia), 1998; Alfred Meyer Award, British Neuropathological Society 2001; Institute of Biology Charter Award and Medal, 2001; Baly Medal for distinction in the science of physiology, Royal College of Physicians, 2001; Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience Award, British Neuroscience Association, 2001. Fellowships from several universities; D.Sc., Aston University, 1992; D.SC., Salford University, 1994; honorary fellowship, Cardiff University, 1993.


(Editor, with M. S. Gazzaniga) Handbook of Psychobiology, Academic Press (San Diego, CA), 1975.

Mechanics of the Mind, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity and Consciousness, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 1989.

(Editor) Vision: Coding and Efficiency, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

The Mind Machine, BBC Consumer Publishing (London, England), 1990.

(Editor, with Horace Barlow and Miranda Weston-Smith) Images and Understanding: Thoughts about Images, Ideas about Understanding, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Susan Iversen) Gender and Society: Essays Based on Herbert Spencer Lectures Given in the University of Oxford, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Sheila Jennett) The Oxford Companion to the Body, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor, with Andrew Parker and Andrew Derrington) The Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Writer and broadcaster for British Broadcasting Corp. Series editor, Perspectives in Vision Research, Plenum (New York, NY), 1981—; editor in chief, IBRO News,1986—. Contributor to learned journals and popular magazines, including Sciences and Nature. Member of several editorial boards, including Perception, Trends in Neurosciences, Behavioural and Brain Sciences, Experimental Brain Research, 1979-89, Reviews in the Neurosciences, 1984—, Language and Communication, 1979-90, International Review of Neurobiology, 1996—, and Eurobrain, 1998—.

SIDELIGHTS: A highly respected neuroscientist and communicator, Colin Blakemore is one of England's most recognized science professionals. He has also been the subject of controversy, targeted by certain animal-rights activists for his research on the causes of childhood blindness, which involves experiments on cats. "He has sewn [cats'] eyelids shut—precisely the technique that is used on babies with eye injuries," explained Arlene Judith Klotzko in an article for the Scientist online. "He later recorded with microelectrodes from nerve cells in the visual parts of the brain to assess the effects of the early disturbance of vision. The animals were anaesthetized at the beginning of the experiment and did not suffer." Blakemore, however, did suffer at the hands of some activists. In addition to being the center of an orchestrated campaign, said Klotzko, the scientist was the target of death threats: "Bombs were delivered to his home, his daughters were threatened with kidnap. And the terrorism continued for years."

Blakemore's case made headlines in England when Gillian Reynolds, a writer for the Daily Telegraph, focused on this kind of animal-rights action in the light of the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. Regarding the letter-bombs sent to the scientist's home, Reynolds was quoted in "His children had picked it up, looked at it. Had they opened it, at least one of them might have died, the others showered with [HIV-infected] needles with which the explosive was said to be packed." For his part, Blakemore has attempted to engage in dialogue with his critics, and told Klotzko that he has been torn between "the crucial importance of scientific research and the safety of my family."

Among the books Blakemore has edited or coedited is The Oxford Companion to the Body, a general-interest volume that, according to Lancet reviewer Graham Farmelo, "[unleashes] not only scientists, but writers, artists, and poets on a subject that obsesses almost all of us." This work covers topics in not only the mechanics of the body but also the emotional, psychological, and cultural forces that shape human behavior. Times Literary Supplement reviewer W. F. Bynum admitted expecting to find dull a book that boasted "two distinguished physiologists as editors [with] information on the dust jacket that the book has been supported by the Physiology Society." Instead, Bynum deemed Oxford Companion a book that "succeeds brilliantly. It combines the palatable essence of the historical, anthropological and gender-based insights of social approaches to the body with accessible and full accounts of contemporary scientific understanding of the way our bodies work." Bynum went on to praise the editors' "eclectic and sometimes wacky coverage, everything from Codpiece to Coitus, from Brain Stem to Brassière." Tim Radford of the Guardian found the book a "rare thing, an encyclopaedia you want to go on reading." He added that while some entries seemed "terse and functional," most "celebrate the intimacy between physiology and achievement."



Books, October, 1988, review of The Mind Machine, p. 20.

British Book News, September, 1987, review of Mind-waves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity and Consciousness, p. 589.

British Journal of Psychology, February, 1993, Ian Gordon, review of Vision: Coding and Efficiency, p. 134.

Choice, February, 1988, review of Mindwaves, p. 974; February, 1992, R. H. Cormack, review of Vision, p. 919; November, 1995, review of Mindwaves, p. 411.

Daily Telegraph, October 23, 2002, Gillian Reynolds, "Conscience and the Call to Arms."

Endeavor, summer, 1991, D. Perrett, review of Vision, p. 144.

Financial Times, May 13, 2003, Clive Cookson, "Oxford Neuroscientist to Lead Research Council."

Guardian (London, England), January 22, 1995, review of The Mind Machine, p. 29; December 22, 2001, Tim Radford, review of The Oxford Companion to the Body, p. 9.

Lancet, May 11, 2002, Graham Farmelo, "Serendipitous Discoveries," p. 1705.

Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2002, Jane Allen, "Media Mix," p. S2.

Medical Research Council, May 23, 2003, Jocelyn Kaiser, "Out of the Frying Pan into the MRC," p. 1230.

Nature, November 19, 1987, review of Mindwaves, p. 297; December 1, 1988, Geoffrey Hall, review of The Mind Machine, p. 431; May 2, 1991, J. Anthony Movshon, review of Vision, p. 24.

New Scientist, August 25, 1988, Susan Blackmore, review of Mindwaves, p. 58; March 25, 1989, Jennifer Altman, review of The Mind Machine, p. 60; November 24, 2001, Maggie McDonald, "Body Amazing," p. 45.

Quarterly Review of Biology, March, 1994, review of Vision, p. 125.

Science, May 3, 2002, Steven Vogel, "Habeas Corpus," p. 854.

Science Books & Films, September, 1988, review of Mindwaves, p. 3.

Scientist, May 13, 2003, Pat Hagan, "New MRC Head Named."

SciTech Book News, March, 1988, review of Mindwaves, p. 2.

Times (London, England), February 26, 2000, Valerie Grove, "'Cruelty? They Just Have No Idea'" (interview), p. 21.

Times Literary Supplement, April 8, 1988, Stuart Sutherland, review of Mindwaves, p. 403; February 15, 2002, W. F. Bynum, "Cherries and Cobwebs," p. 10.

Washington Post Book World, December 27, 1987, review of Mindwaves, p. 4.

ONLINE, (September 17, 2002), Brian Carnell "Eloquent Commentary on Animal Rights Terrorism."

Scientist, (April 15, 2002), Arlene Judith Klotzko, "Profile."

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Blakemore, Colin (Brian) 1944-

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