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Bert Geoffrey AchongLawrence (“Laurie”) Gordon BrockGervais Joly DixonRonald Vincent HarrisHenry Vernon JonesAnne Carmel Marley (née O'Hanlon)William Gordon MillarGavin William MilroyJean Pasmore (née Calman)Bernard Butts ReissKshitindra Nath SenguptaAndrew Charles Sheldon

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 11 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:150

Bert Geoffrey Achong

Senior lecturer department of pathology, University of Bristol 1968-85 (b Port of Spain, Trinidad 1928; q University College Dublin 1953; MD, FRCPath), died of a brain tumour on 20 November 1996. He came to Europe at the age of 18, having won the prestigious Jerningham Gold Medal and the Colonial Scholarship. After qualification and training as a pathologist at the Lambeth Hospital he joined the team headed by (Sir) Anthony Epstein studying viruses associated with cancer at the Bland Sutton Institute at the Middlesex Hospital. In 1964 the team discovered the first human tumour virus, later known as the Epstein-Barr virus, and in 1971 Achong discovered a “foamy virus” by electron microscopic examination of human cancer cells, which proved to be the first example of a retrovirus naturally infecting man. But Achong was more than a superb electron microscopist: he taught an immensely popular BSc course in cellular pathology, and had a flair for making difficult concepts seem straightforward, and above all the subject exciting and challenging. He never returned to his native Trinidad to work, but loved the island and visited it regularly, remaining a Trinidadian at heart although in many ways he seemed to have adopted the façade of an Englishman. He loved London, and particularly his home base of Hampstead, which he never entirely deserted even when he was working in Bristol. He made it his business to know about anything cultural—art, theatre, literature, and opera—and travelled widely, always with his Blue Guide, and was a gold mine of information for any would be traveller. It was typical of Achong to make light of his illness: he told me that he first realised that something was amiss when he could no longer do the Times crossword at the expected speed. But, although he lost his power …

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