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Today's Honorary degree awards

Press release issued: 9 July 2002

Media release
Today's Honorary degree awards

Bristol University is awarding Honorary degrees to three prominent people at today's degree ceremonies in the Wills Memorial Building.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, CBE, will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Science at the 11.15 am ceremony.

Professor Goodfellow was an undergraduate student in the Department of Physics at Bristol University from 1969-72, a time when only around 10 per cent of the intake were women. Julia's final year research project made use of the technique of X-ray crystallography to investigate how the structure of this sugar responds to its local environment and led to the first of numerous research publications bearing her name. This set the scene for Julia to establish a highly successful career as a biophysicist.

Julia obtained her PhD from the Open University before moving to a research fellowship on the west coast of the United States in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University. She then returned to England to work in the field of structural biology with Professor Tom Blundell in the Department of Crystallography at Birkbeck College, London.

Although Julia first worked, as an undergraduate, on the structure of a complex sugar, most of her subsequent work has focused on protein structure and more recently on the structure of DNA. She is particularly renowned for her use of computer simulation techniques to study the structure and function of large molecules like proteins and DNA. In addition to her significant scientific achievements, Julia has made major contributions to teaching within Birkbeck, helping to train and enthuse future generations of scientists.

In recent years Julia has made major contributions to the wider scientific community in this country. She served on a grant-awarding panel of the Wellcome Trust, including several years as chairman of that panel. In 1998, having been made a Professor and having become Head of the Department of Crystallography at Birkbeck, she was appointed to the position of Vice-Master of Birkbeck.

Julia joined the Council of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in 1997 and was appointed its chief executive in January this year. Partial recognition of her contribution to science in this country came with the award of a CBE for services to biophysics in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2001.

Professor Peter Goodfellow, FRS, will be honoured with the degree of Doctor of Science at the 2 pm ceremony.

It is 30 years since Peter Goodfellow graduated from Bristol University with a First class degree in Microbiology.

After leaving Bristol, Peter gained a PhD in human molecular genetics at the University of Oxford. He then travelled to the United States to work at the University of Stanford. In 1978 he returned to the UK to establish his own independent research group at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London, where he continued to pursue his fascination with human genetics.

It was during this period that Peter began working on a subject that has made him a household name within the scientific community. Peter led a team of scientists who identified that a single gene controls the difference between male and female development.

He was the first person successfully to clone a gene from the human Y chromosome, and this ultimately inspired him to track down the gene, present on the Y chromosome, that is responsible for controlling testis formation and maleness. He showed that the sex-determining gene produces a protein that controls the activity of other genes that ultimately result in the development of a man rather than a woman.

For this important work, Peter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has also won numerous awards including the 1995 Louis-Jeantet Prize for medicine. This is a highly prestigious prize, often awarded to scientists who subsequently become Nobel laureates.

After leaving the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, Peter had a four-year sojourn at the University of Cambridge as the Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics. In 1996 he moved from Cambridge to the pharmaceutical company Smith-Kline-Beecham, now Glaxo-Smith-Kline, as Senior Vice-President for worldwide discovery research. This has allowed him access the very latest advanced techniques for studying the activities of many thousands of genes at one time.

He is using his position to establish teams and networks to identify genes which alter the risk of developing common diseases such as asthma, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, depression, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. This should provide a better understanding of the differences in the genes that trigger disease, as well as help the identification of new drug targets and medicines that will advance the treatment, cure or prevention of such illnesses.

Arthur Milton will be honoured with the degree of Master of Arts at the 4.45 pm ceremony.

Bristolian Arthur Milton was a pupil at Cotham Grammar School, Bristol. Talented academically, particularly in mathematics, Arthur had a university place beckoning; but he was gifted in other ways too. Every ball game seemed natural to him. He was an outstanding fly half at rugby. Success at cricket came easily. Soccer was the big draw and when Arsenal Football Club showed an interest, he signed as an amateur in 1945 at the age of 17. In 1948 he also signed for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

He played 84 games on the right wing for Arsenal, many in the 1952/3 season, when they were champions of the Football League (the 'Premiership' as it is called today). He was a goal scorer, netting 21 goals. Arthur's only full International, in 1951, at Wembley, against Austria, was drawn 2-2.

In February 1955, Arthur signed for Bristol City, for the princely sum of £4,000. He played the last 14 games of the season, scoring three times, and was never on the losing side, helping guide the team to promotion to the Second Division of the Football League. At the end of the season, Arthur decided that he wished to concentrate on cricket, in which by now he had become successful. So Arthur retired from soccer and, under the terms of the agreement between the two clubs, Arsenal had to return half of the £4,000.

By the time he retired, in 1974, at the age of 47, Arthur had played 585 matches for Gloucestershire, 620 first-class games in all. He played six times for England, making a remarkable test debut in 1958 against New Zealand. After the first two days had been washed out, Arthur opened the batting for England, scoring 104 not out, becoming the first Gloucestershire player since W. G. Grace, in 1880, to score a hundred on his debut. England went on to win the game by an innings, thereby ensuring that Arthur had been on the field of play for the complete duration of the game - something which no England player had ever managed previously in the history of the game. He went on to be selected as the Wisden cricketer of the year for 1959.

In his first-class career, Arthur scored over 1,000 runs in a season on 16 occasions. He carried his bat through an innings three times, twice scored centuries in each innings of a match and, renowned as a sharp slip fielder, took a record 758 catches.

When he stopped playing cricket, in 1975, Arthur did not adjust too well to a normal life. For a few years, he coached the Oxford University cricketers. Ted Dexter, at that time the Chairman of the England selectors, used Arthur as a 'talent scout' round the County circuit. This was all fine, but Arthur needed a job which kept him active and lasted the whole year.

He had previously worked part-time as a Christmas postman, and quite enjoyed it, so he went for a full-time job delivering the mail. He was given the Sneyd Park round, which he faithfully delivered, until compulsory retirement at the age of 60. Arthur was not ready to give all of this up, so he went to the local newsagents and volunteered to do the paper round.

For 14 years, Arthur has continued to serve the people of that neighbourhood, including several University halls of residence, and continues to deliver papers to this very day.

This is the first occasion in the history of the University that a husband and wife, Professors Peter and Julia Goodfellow, have received an honorary degree on the same day.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Tuesday, 09-Jul-2002 12:22:48 BST

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