Tributes as top scientist dies aged 95

Malvern Gazette: TOP SCIENTISTS: Dr Frederick Sanger, an old boy of the Downs school in Colwall, has died aged 95. TOP SCIENTISTS: Dr Frederick Sanger, an old boy of the Downs school in Colwall, has died aged 95.

FREDERICK Sanger, the British biochemist and double Nobel Prize winner who has died at the age of 95, spent his early years as a schoolboy in Malvern.

From the ages of nine to 14, the man whose pioneering techniques helped develop DNA and paved the way for a genetic revolution which has transformed biology and medicine, was a pupil at the Downs preparatory school in Colwall.

Mr Sanger was the second son of a family GP from Rendcomb, near Cirencester, and brought up a Quaker.

The family later moved to Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire, and in 1927 young Frederick was sent to the Downs, which was then run on Quaker principles.

He remained there until 1932 when his parents moved him to the newly opened Bryanston School in Dorset.

Showing a talent for science, he started as an undergraduate at Cambridge University in 1936.

Now called the Downs, Malvern, and part of Malvern College, the school retains several connections with its famous old boy.

One of two new science laboratories has been named after Dr Sanger, the senior science prize at the end of the year is the Sanger Science Prize and Sanger House is one of the school’s houses.

Dr Sanger was always modestly dismissive about his achievements, referring to himself as “a chap who messed about in his lab”.

However, his name was adopted by the world famous Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinton, Cambridgeshire, where Human Genome Project scientists conducted much of the research leading to the first complete blueprint of the human genetic code. His death has attracted tributes from across the world.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Fred Sanger was one of the greatest scientists of any generation and the only Briton to have been honoured with two Nobel Prizes. He can fairly be called the father of the genomic era.”

Both Dr Sanger’s parents died during his first two years at Cambridge University and, strongly influenced by his Quaker upbringing, he became a pacifist and a member of the Peace Pledge Union.

During the Second World War he was granted unconditional exemption from military ser- vice as a conscientious objector.

He later became an agnostic and even rejected a knighthood because he did not care to be called ‘Sir’.


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