Intended for healthcare professionals


The right man for the moment?

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 11 September 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:582
  1. Geoff Watts

    Given the amount of flak the Medical Research Council has attracted recently, the appointment of a skilled communicator to its top job seems a good move.Geoff Watts talks to Colin Blakemore

    During one of the many animal rights demonstrations outside his house, Professor Colin Blakemore recalls a woman armed with a megaphone shouting, “Come on out, Blakemore. We know you developed thalidomide.” In some quarters, it seems, Colin Blakemore is viewed as scientifically omnipotent. As the Medical Research Council's new chief executive, a dash of omnipotence—scientific or otherwise—would no doubt come in handy over the next few years. But Blakemore's own assessment is more modest. When the post fell vacant he sent a note to the headhunting agency, saying, “I suppose there's no possibility that I could be a suitable candidate, is there?” To his surprise he got a call saying, “Why not?”

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    Colin Blakemore: “We suffer so much from suspicions about science, it's important that the public see and hear from jobbing scientists”


    Why not indeed? Waynflete professor of physiology at Oxford, skilful science communicator, staunch defender of the use of animals in medical research… good choice, you might think. There are, though, backwaters of academia where some of Blakemore's …

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