Prof Iain Campbell: A pioneer of essential scientific techniques

Professor Iain Campbell

Professor Iain Campbell

First published in News
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A FELLOW of Oxford University’s St John’s College who pioneered essential scientific techniques of biology has died aged 72.

Professor Iain Campbell, of the university’s biochemistry department, was a key player in the development of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, an important method for examining the structure of organic compounds.

He was an expert on proteins of essential life processes and in retirement continued to write many research papers and reviews.

Iain Campbell was born in Perth, Scotland, to Daniel and Catherine (nee Lauder) Campbell.

His father was a railway worker and his mother a telephone operator.

Mr Campbell was a pupil at Blackford Primary School and later attended the comprehensive school Perth Academy before going on to study physics at the University of St Andrews from 1959 to 1966.

In 1967, after a short time spent at the University of Bradford, where he married his wife Karin (nee Wehle), he came to the physical and theoretical chemistry laboratory at Oxford University, in South Parks Road, to work with the chemist Sir Rex Richards. Sir Rex’s main work concerned NMR and it was there that Prof Campbell became involved in the development of the techniques as well.

He and his wife had their first child, Louisa, in 1968, followed by Fiona in 1969. In 1973 his son Andrew was born. The family lived in Summertown.

In 1971 he moved to the department of biochemistry and was to spend the rest of his career there.

During his time there he was a researcher and teacher, taking brief sabbatical breaks at Heidelberg University in Germany and the University of California at San Diego.

Prof Campbell was made a Fellow of St John’s College 1987 and then an Emeritus Research Fellow in 2009. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995 and was a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation.

His other achievements included attaining the Croonian Medal of the Royal Society and being awarded honorary degrees from the universities of Lund, Portsmouth and St Andrews.

Prof Campbell retired in 2009 but continued to work at the biochemistry department until his death.

He died on March 5, after a long battle with multiple-myeloma bone cancer.He is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren.

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