Bodmer, Sir Walter

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BODMER, SIR WALTER (1936– ), British geneticist. Bodmer was born in Frankfurt am Main and emigrated to Manchester with his family because of Nazi persecution. He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and read mathematics at Cambridge University before gaining his Ph.D. in statistics under R.F. Fisher. He was a member of the university's genetics department and a fellow of Clare College before moving to Stanford University, Calif., to work with Joshua *Lederberg, where he became professor of genetics (1968). He returned to the U.K. as professor of genetics at Oxford University (1970–79) before his appointment as director of research followed by appointment as director general of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London (icrf) (1979–96). In 1996 he returned to Oxford as head of the icrf Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory at the Oxford Institute of Molecular Medicine and principal of Hertford College. He was chancellor of Salford University from 1995. Sir Walter's initial research on theoretical genetics moved to biological issues and especially to disease susceptibility. He and his wife, julia (1934– ), made major contributions to understanding the human system of tissue markers known as the hla system. He was an early advocate of applying dna technology to detecting disease susceptibility. Subsequently he used gene mutations to detect those at risk from bowel cancer. He continued to work on biological aspects of population genetics. Sir Walter made vital contributions to international collaboration in studying genetics and to the human genome project, aims furthered by his term as president of the Human Genome Organization (hugo) (1990–92). His book The Book of Man (1995) made modern genetics and its implications generally accessible. His many honors include election to the Royal Society (1994) and a knighthood (1986). He was a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Science. Sir Walter was a strong supporter of Israeli science and scientific institutions.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]