Roland Jacob Levinsky

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:264

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  1. Caroline Richmond

    Pioneered the first successful bone marrow transplants in children with primary immunodeficiency and became a fearless university administrator

    The dreadful death of Roland Levinsky has shocked the world of paediatric oncology and genetics. He was an immunologist of international renown who performed the UK's first successful bone marrow transplant in children with primary immunodeficiency in 1979 at Great Ormond Street children's hospital. He went on to perform the UK's first successful attempts at gene therapy in children with fatal inherited diseases. He transformed the Institute of Child Health in London into a topclass research institution. Later, he did a similar makeover at Plymouth University, sending it soaring up the league tables.

    Levinsky was born in South Africa to a British-born mother and Polish/Lithuanian father who had fled from the Nazis. His father, who often had trouble with the authorities because he was a communist, died when Roland was 13. Two years later his mother returned to England with her three children.

    He was educated at Grey College in Bloemfontein and spent his sixth form years at William Ellis School in Camden. At University College London he was inspired …

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