What happened to a young refugee from Nazi Germany?

Walter Bodmer, former Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, fled Nazi Germany in 1938 as a young child, and is a world-leading geneticist who has made major contributions to the study of the genetics of human populations, gene mapping and cancer genetics and to our understanding of the human tissue typing system. He was one of the first to suggest the idea of the human genome project. Early in his career, Walter helped to discover the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system, vital for the success of organ and bone marrow transplants. Walter’s interest in human populations led him to set up a UK population gene bank that could be used as a control group in research. More recently, he has successfully grown bowel cancer cells in the lab in structures similar to those found naturally inside the bowel. Walter is credited with beginning the movement for the public understanding of science, having chaired the first committee set up to establish standards for communicating science and technology. He was the first Director General of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and was knighted in 1986. He is currently Head of the Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford.

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