Professor Sir Peter Julius Lachmann FRCP FRCPath FRS FMedSci (1931-2020)

Tributes have been paid to Honorary Fellow of Trinity and Fellow of Christ’s College, Professor Sir Peter Julius Lachmann FRCP FRCPath FRS FMedSci (1931-2020), who died on 26 December.

Sir Peter was Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology (formerly Tumour Immunology) at Cambridge, 1977–99, and Head of the Microbial Immunology Group at the Centre for Veterinary Science, 1997-2006.

He served as President of the Royal College of Pathologists, 1990-1993, Biological Secretary of the Royal Society, 1993-1998, and Founder President of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, 1998-2002, as well as sitting on UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee, 1993-1998.

Sir Peter’s roles involved him in the ethical and policy controversies surrounding vaccination, stem cells, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and genetically modified food crops.

Trinity Fellow, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, Interim Director of the MRC Cancer Unit, and Honorary Consultant in Gastroenterology and Cancer Medicine at Addenbrooke’s, paid tribute to Sir Peter.

Peter Lachmann was an intellectual giant who always had time for people. As a medical student I was inspired by his lectures on immunology. Much later in the Fellows’ Drawing room at Trinity he quizzed me on oesophageal embryology and whether this might hold the clue to the enigmatic pre-cancerous condition Barrett’s metaplasia. It was characteristic of Peter to be inquisitive and knowledgeable about a wide range of scientific areas.

His founding of the Academy of Medical Sciences enabled medical doctors and scientists to have a more persuasive voice in matters of policy and research prioritisation. He continued to take an interest contemporary issues in in science and medicine even as his physical health failed him and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

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