Professor Jack B Pridham

Posted on 21/05/2012

It is with great sadness that I must announce the death of Prof Jack Pridham, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway.

Jack was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at Royal Holloway in 1957 and soon established himself as a pre-eminent plant carbohydrate biochemist. Not only did his energy, ambition and practical skills result in frequent publications, often in Nature, he also had the foresight to establish the Department of Biochemistry at Royal Holloway in 1967. This initiative reflected the burgeoning development of the subject and in the same year, at the age of 38, he was awarded a DSc, followed by a personal chair in 1971. He continued to head and expand the Department, steer it though the merger with Bedford College and remained in post until 1990. Throughout this lengthy period as Head, Jack continued to publish regularly and maintain his fundamental belief that a good knowledge of chemistry is essential for us to understand the wonders of living organisms. This view also shaped the undergraduate curriculum within the Department and was evident after his retirement through his web site ‘ChemoPhilia’, which was ‘dedicated to counteracting misleading information about, and irrational attitudes to, chemicals’.

Jack officially retired in 1993, but continued to teach and inspire undergraduates for a number of years afterwards. He became enthusiastically involved in science outreach, the debate over genetically modified organisms and was always eager to engage in scientific discussion and debate, whether in the SCR or the department.

Jack was also very active in other aspects of College life, whether as warden of Kingswood Hall (1981-1992), Vice Principal (1976-79), a keen member of the Thursday Club or quite simply a kind, generous and understanding colleague and friend, with a mischievous sense of humour. Words cannot adequately express the loss we all feel and our thoughts and prayers go out to Mary and his family at this sad time.

We will announce funeral details in due course.

Paul Layzell


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