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Murray, Robert (1919- )

Murray, Robert (1919- )

British bacteriologist

Robert George Everitt Murray is professor emeritus and former department chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario in London. His numerous accomplishments in bacterial taxonomy, ultrastructure, and education have been recognized by his investiture as an officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.

Murray received his early education in Britain, but moved to Montreal in 1930 where his father was Professor of Bacteriology and Immunology at McGill University. He attended McGill from 1936 to 1938, then returned to England to study at Cambridge University (B.A. in Pathology and Bacteriology in 1941 and with a M.A. in the same discipline in 1945). In 1943 he also received a M.D. degree from McGill.

In 1945, Murray joined the faculty of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at the University of Western Ontario in London as a Lecturer. He remained at Western for the remainder of his career. He was appointed Professor and Head of the department in 1949 and served as head until 1974. Since his retirement in 1984 he has been Professor Emeritus.

Murray has served as President of the American Society for Microbiology in 19721973 and was one of the founders of the Canadian Society for Microbiologists in 1951. In 1954, he became the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, which continues to publish to this day.

His interest in taxonomy continued a family tradition begun by his father, E.G.D. Murray, who was a trustee of the Bergey's Manual of determinative Bacteriology from 1936 until his death in 1964. Robert Murray succeeded his late family on the Board of Trustees of the Manual. He chaired the Board from 1976 to 1990.

In addition to these responsibilities, Murray has served the microbiology community by his editorial guidance of various journals of the American Society for Microbiology and other international societies.

During his tenure at the University of Western Ontario, Murray and his colleagues and students conducted research that has greatly advanced the understanding of how bacteria are constructed and function. For example, the use of light and electron microscopy and techniques such as x-ray diffraction revealed the presence and some of the structural details of the so-called regularly structured (or RS) layer that overlays some bacteria. In another area, Murray discovered and revealed many structural and behavior aspects of a bacterium called Deinococcus radiodurans. This bacterium displays resistance to levels of radiation that are typically lethal to bacteria.

Such research has been acknowledged with a number of awards and honorary degrees. Murray's contribution to Canadian microbiology continues. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network of Centres of Excellence.

See also Bacterial ultrastructure; Radiation resistant bacteria

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