Advisory Board

Professor Colin Blakemore

The article Tighter laws needed on sale of DNA samples, says research chief began

One of the country’s leading scientists yesterday called on the government to draw up new laws to regulate companies that sell DNA samples which could be used to manufacture a biological weapon.
 
Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said foolproof protection was needed to prevent potentially dangerous material getting into the wrong hands. His comments were endorsed by other senior scientists and follow a Guardian investigation that revealed the ease with which a potential terrorist could buy such materials on the internet. The Guardian was able to order a small fragment of DNA from the variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox.
 
“It is obviously a worry that fragments of a potentially very dangerous pathogen can be obtained as easily as your investigation suggests”, said Professor Blakemore. “This is one area where legislation or new regulation might be appropriate.”

Professor Colin Blakemore, Ph.D., FMedSci, FRS is Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC). His research focuses on vision, the early development of the brain and, more recently, conditions like Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease. He has published over 220 scientific papers and a number of books on these subjects.
 
Colin won a state scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he gained a first-class degree in medical sciences, then completed his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, USA as a Harkness fellow. He returned to Cambridge to undertake post-doctoral research, before moving to the University of Oxford where he became Waynflete Professor of Physiology at the age of 35.
 
He was director of the MRC Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience for eight years and, in 1989, was awarded the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize for excellence in communicating science to UK audiences. He has also served as president of the Biosciences Federation, British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society, and president and chairman of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2003, he succeeded Professor Sir George Radda as the head of the Medical Research Council, a national organization that supports medical science with an annual budget of almost £500 million.
 
Colin authored Where would we be without boffins?, Mechanics of the Mind (BBC Reith Lectures; 1976), Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity, and Consciousness, The Mind Machine (BBC Classics), and is coeditor of The Oxford Companion to the Body, Vision : Coding and Efficiency, The Physiology of Cognitive Processes, and Gender and Society : Essays Based on Herbert Spencer Lectures Given in the University of Oxford.
 
Read his interview by Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation (ACNR) and the transcript of his Science Show interview. Watch Colin chair discussions on GM Foods – Safe?, Nanotechnology, Forever Young, The Realities of Risk, Defying Death, The Theory of Everything, Endless Energy, Is There Anybody Out There?, Voyage to the Bottom of the Deep Deep Sea, Predicting Personality, Eyes in the Skies, The End of Evolution?, Antimatter, Cloning, and Machines with Minds.
 
Read his LinkedIn profile.