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Zoology at Birmingham: Prof. P. B. Medawar

Nature volume 160, pages 1415 (05 July 1947) | Download Citation

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Mr. P. B. Medawar, fellow of Magdalen College, University demonstrator and lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, Oxford, has been elected to the chair of zoology in the University of Birmingham. Not yet thirty-three, he has had a brilliant career at Oxford, winning a Christopher Welch Research Scholarship in 1935, the Edward Chapman Research Prize in 1938, and the Rolleston Memorial Prize in 1942. While his outlook is physiological and experimental, he has a true regard for the discipline of comparative anatomy which will ensure that his school will be well balanced and built upon a sound foundation. It is relevant to recall what he wrote in an article on zoology at Oxford in Biology in 1944: “It is indeed not comparative anatomy, but the method of comparative anatomy, that makes the substance of Oxford's tradition of zoology. Comparative anatomy is only part of zoology, but the method devised for its analysis is the method of all creative science in its most difficult, fallible, and in a sense most sophisticated form. In comparative anatomy, the object is not to examine diverse animal forms, which is easy, but to appraise the significance of their diversity. … If it has ever been said that a man trained in the methods of comparative anatomy should be able to turn his hand to most things, the variety of Oxford's useful researches in zoology does nothing to belie the judgment.”

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https://doi.org/10.1038/160014c0

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