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expert reaction to Prof Colin Blakemore being made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours

It was announced that Professor Colin Blakemore had been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Professor Sir John Tooke, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“I am delighted to hear that Professor Colin Blakemore FRS FMedSci has received a knighthood in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours. This honour is well deserved, and a tribute to both the quality of his work and the strength he has shown in defending the importance of animal models in biomedical research.”

Prof Sir John Savill, Chief Executive, Medical Research Council, said:

“I am delighted that Professor Colin Blakemore, former Chief Executive of the MRC, has been awarded a knighthood. Professor Blakemore is a highly regarded researcher and has served UK science over many years extremely well in a large number of ways. His support for the use of animals in research has been extraordinarily brave; he led the way on openness at a time when this was at great personal risk to himself and his family.”

Tracey Brown, Director, Sense About Science, said:

“This is recognition of something that some of us have known for a long time, that Colin Blakemore is not only an excellent scientist but a genuine leader in discussing the most difficult research issues openly with the public. He has had to cope with more challenges than most, including threats to his personal safety, and amongst it all he has been braver than most. He put himself forward for public discussion on the hard issues, from animal testing to the MMR vaccine controversy, at a time when the authorities ran for the hills. “

Wendy Jarrett, CEO, Understanding Animal Research, said:

“I am delighted to hear that Colin Blakemore has been honoured in this way. His achievements speak for themselves, but they are all the more remarkable when one considers that for many years he pursued his ground-breaking research under concerted attack from animal rights activists. The fact that he did not give in to their violence and threats, and indeed made a point of talking openly about the importance of animal research in medical progress, is testament of his strength of character. He has encouraged many more scientists to speak up about their research using animals, helping the public to understand why such research remains necessary in some circumstances.”

Prof Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, University of Oxford, said:

“Life has its ups and downs: this is definitely an up! Being a scientist is a delight, but also a privilege. The progress of science depends on the confidence of the public and politicians, and I’ve always believed that scientists have an obligation to share their excitement, their knowledge and also their concerns with the whole of society. Scientists must be prepared to engage in debate and dialogue, even on difficult and challenging issues, if we are to maintain the trust of society and the support of government. I’m especially pleased, then, that this honour has recognised my efforts to contribute to the dialogue between science and society. I hope that it will be seen as recognition for the efforts of all those scientists who devote time and energy to public communication.”

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to hear that Colin’s enormous contribution to science and society have been recognised with such an honour. This is fully deserved by someone who has challenged, stimulated and inspired in equal measure and always with a wonderful sense of humour. Besides his ground-breaking work in neuroscience, he has paved the way for open communication on scientific issues of public importance. He was one of the first to speak out honestly and bravely about the use of animals in research and the new concordat on openness is very much a part of his legacy. Colin has helped create a thriving environment for science and medical research in the UK of which we can all be extremely proud, and, on a personal note, I have been enormously grateful for his wise council and sage advice.”

Prof Roger Lemon, Sobell Chair of Neurophysiology, Institute of Neurology, UCL, said:

“Long, long deserved. A great tribute to a top scientist and a top advocate for the responsible use of animals in research.”

Prof David Nutt, The Edmond J Safra Chair and Head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Division of Brain Sciences, Dept of Medicine, Imperial College London, said:

“From inspirational junior lecturer in Cambridge University, through Prof of Physiology at Oxford to restructuring the MRC as CEO, Colin has shown a unique ability to combine scientific rigor with innovation and intellectual honesty. The UK scientific community will welcome this long-overdue recognition.”

Prof Simon Wessely, President Elect of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Chair of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, said:

“Most of us can remember very little of who taught us back when we were medical students in the dim and distant past. But there was one lecturer who filled the Cambridge lecture hall, even on the Saturday morning slot that he was given. So 40 years ago (although I am sure he will not thank me for saying that), Colin was the maestro of not just neuroscience, but also of science communication. This is a fitting tribute.”

Prof Richard Morris, Royal Society/Wolfson Professor of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh, said:

“I am delighted to learn that Colin’s Blakemore’s many contributions to science, to the public communication of science, and to charitable causes related to medicine have now been recognised by the country he loves. He has been a tireless campaigner for an evidence-based approach to all of these causes. Biomedical science in the United Kingdom owes much to him, even now as he continues with new research on brain and mind.”

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