Everyone within the University of London was saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, FRS. Sir Colin was one of the UK’s most distinguished and eminent scientists, and an established world leader in the fields of neuroscience and physiology.
Sir Colin’s many achievements included being the youngest person to give the BBC Radio 4 Reith lectures and youngest to be elected Oxford University’s Waynflete Professor of Physiology. He was awarded honorary doctorates by ten universities, was the founding president of the British Neuroscience Association, Founding Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and from 2003-7 he served as the Chief Executive of the MRC.
From 2007-17, Sir Colin was Chair of the General Advisory Committee on Science for the Food Standards Agency. Academic positions included the Waynflete Professor of Physiology at Oxford from 1979-2007, and from 2007-2012, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. In 2012-2018 he became the Professor of Neuroscience & Philosophy & Director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses and the Institute of Philosophy in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.
Sir Colin was a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy and Yeung Kin Man Chair Professor of Neuroscience, City University of Hong Kong. In addition, he was the patron and president of numerous medical charities and foundations, the winner of the Michael Faraday Prize and Medal from the Royal Society, the Edinburgh Medal, the Kelvin Medal among many other prizes. He had over 900 publications and an h-index of 101. His contribution to neuroscience constituted world-leading research.
In addition to his academic achievements, Professor Sir Colin Blakemore was an outstanding science communicator. He was the writer and presenter of award-winning television series for the BBC, including The Mind Machine and The Next Big Thing. He was a frequent contributor on science matters for the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, and was a guest on Desert Island Discs, In the Psychiatrist’s Chair, and The Life Scientific.
Director of the Institute of Philosophy Professor Barry C Smith said:
‘It was hard to resist Colin’s infectious enthusiasm for ideas. His passion for science was accompanied by an outstanding ability to communicate it. These talents helped to pioneer the significant interactions between philosophy, psychology and neurosciences that thrive at the Centre for the Study of the Senses.
Anyone who worked with Colin knew that he was never hierarchical. His instincts were inclusive and collaborative. I was proud to have him as a colleague and a friend, and he will be much missed’.