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Genetics at Birmingham : Dr. K. Mather

Nature volume 162, page 17 (03 July 1948) | Download Citation



DR. KENNETH MATHER, who has boen appointed to the chair of genetics now established in the University of Birmingham, is known for his, in some respects, revolutionary outlook on this subject. Dr. Mather derives this outlook from a fusion of several of the main streams of thought in biology. Ho went from Manchester in 1931 to work at the John Innes Horticultural Institution, where he obtained a thorough grasp of the chromosome theory of heredity as it was being developed there at the time. In 1933 he went for a year to Sweden, where he gained a great deal from studying the methods of plant breeding uaed at Svalv and by that notabio sugar beet breeder, Dr. J. M. Rasmusson. In 1934 ho took a post with Prof. R. A. Fisher, under whom ho became familiar both with the breeding of mico and the still rapidiy developing technique of atatistical genetics, to which ho began to make serieus contributions. In 1937 ho spent a year with Morgan and East in the United States. Finally, in 1938 ho retumed to take up the post of head of the Genetics Department at the John Innes Institution. There ho has remained for ten years carrying out (with a suceess that has now boen recognized) the very definite purpuse and programme that ho had in mind when ho went there-that of combining biometry and genetica into a single efficient tool for the study of evolution, the practice of plant and animai improvement and the understanding of biology as a whole. During these years, however, Dr. Mather, like other workers in this field, has been painfully conscious of the widening gap between the advances of genetic research and the status of teaching in the universities. In his new post ho wiil have an opportunity of narrowing this gap and of rendering a great service to the University of Birmingham.

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