Eminent pathologist and virologist, one of the discoverers of the Epstein-Barr virus, and Patron of Humanists UK
Born on 18 May 1921, Michael Anthony Epstein went to St Paul’s School, London, and then studied medicine at Cambridge University and Middlesex Hospital Medical School. While assistant pathologist at Middlesex Hospital, he and his assistant Yvonne Barr, after several years of fruitless attempts to culture malign lymphoma cells, decided on a completely new approach to the problem: they separated and grew human lymphocytes in continuous culture, and in 1964, while examining some of these cells under an electron microscope, Epstein finally observed the particles now known as the Epstein-Barr Virus.
In 1968, Epstein became professor of pathology at the University of Bristol, where he is now a Professor Emeritus. In 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Bristol. He was a Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, from 1986 until 2001, and is now an Honorary Fellow.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1979 and was its Vice-President from 1986 to 1991, and his seminal work has been widely recognised. In 1982 he was honoured with The Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research. He was awarded the CBE in 1985, knighted in 1991, and awarded the Royal Society’s Royal Medal in 1992.
He was one of the 43 scientists and philosophers who in March 2002 signed a letter to Tony Blair and relevant Government departments, deploring the teaching of Creationism in schools, and in July 2009 joined other eminent scientists and educators in calling for vital changes to the proposed science curriculum for primary schools in England in a letter to Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. He was also one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles’ Darwin’s birthday, published in The Times on February 12, 2003, and also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.
You can read a brief Wikipedia profile at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Epstein .