Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society

    Peter Brian Medawar was born in 1915 in Rio de Janeiro. His father, Nicholas Agnatius, was a Brazilian businessman of Lebanese extraction, and his mother Edith Muriel Dowling, British. He was educated at Marlborough College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a first-class degree in zoology in 1936 and D.Sc. in 1947. At Oxford he was successively a Christopher Welch Scholar and senior-demi of Magdalen, a senior research fellow of St John’s, and a fellow by special election of Magdalen. From 1947 to 1951 he was Mason Professor of Zoology in the University of Birmingham, from 1951 to 1962 Jodrell Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in University College London, and from 1962 to 1971 Director of the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill. From 1971 to 1986 he worked in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Research Centre, Harrow. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1949; he was awarded a C.B.E. in 1958, a knighthood in 1965, a C.H. in 1972, and an O.M. in 1981, as well as honorary degrees too numerous to mention. In 1960, jointly with MacFarlane Burnet, he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for the discovery of immunological tolerance. Medawar enjoyed great fame as a popularizer and philosopher of science, through his books, numerous articles (cited here only as the collected volumes which contain a selection) and broadcasts. He had a powerfully dramatic presence, much wit, and deep insight into the hopes of his audience.

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