© Doug Vernimmen
I was a Final Year medical student when David Weatherall was appointed Professor of Haematology in Liverpool University in 1973. He was an outstanding Lecturer, extremely popular with the students and helped to make Haematology an exciting and popular subject.
Later I worked at Liverpool Royal Infirmary and covered some of his patients. He was notorious for smoking his pipe in the Doctors’ Office, after the ward round. In those days, people wore white coats and he had the habit of putting his used matches back into the matchbox. Needless to say, one day a brilliant explosion occurred, as a whole box of matches set on fire in his white coat, which he took very calmly.
His wisdom, clinical acumen was outstanding and I count myself lucky to have been able to observe this, not only in Liverpool but in Oxford, where I was a Clinical Research Fellow, supervised by David Weatherall and David Grahame-Smith, on mechanisms drug resistance in acute leukaemia. David Weatherall was a Mentor to me and I was delighted to accept the Chair, in Oxford, at the new Department of Medical Oncology, where I could continue to benefit from regular discussions with him. I moved into research Laboratories at the newly-founded Institute of Molecular Medicine, where there was generous funding from the, then, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, provided by Sir Walter Bodmer.
He has guided many people through their careers, with outstanding patience, wisdom and scientific skill. Indeed he advised me, before going for a previous job as a Professor, in Newcastle, to have a year back in a research lab, again, to consolidate my experience. I worked with the future Nobel Prize-winner, Tomas Lindahl, on DNA repair in ICRF Laboratories. Again, this was outstanding advice.
I was very fortunate to be able to continue to run a laboratory at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, since 1989 which meant I frequently encountered David Weatherall and could enjoy his discussions, insight and the gentle Liverpool accent and great sense of humour. It is a sad loss for Oxford and for the Medical profession, where he pioneered the translational Clinical Scientist role, which has been so important for so many areas of medical research and so much patient benefit.