Professor's Research into CJD Led to Breakthrough; the Death Of. ...Professor Francis Owen, Pioneer of Treatment into Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease, Aged 60 Years. He His Survived by His Wife, Helen, and 19-Year-Old Son, Richard

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a Valleys-born research scientist who made a significant contribution to the advance of neuro-science.

Neuro-chemist and molecular biologist Professor Francis Owen discovered the first mutation that causes the inherited form of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD). It was the discovery of the first mutation in any gene causing a neuro-psychiatric disease.

Through other discoveries he made a significant contribution to the understanding of what is wrong with the brain in schizophrenia and developed a new way of showing brain chemistry in living human subjects, using a scanning technique which is commonly used today. Prof Owen, who retired a year ago as head of neuro-science at Manchester University Medical School, died aged 60 following a six-month illness.

His funeral took place last week in Treharris. He was living in Nantwich, Cheshire, with his dentist wife Helen. They were married for 27 years and have a son Richard, 19, who is studying law at Cardiff University.

Prof Owen was one of four children. His mother Ivy, 84, sister Carole Price and brother Terry all live in Aberdare.

His eldest sister Cynthia Murphy still lives in Treharris.

His wife said he regularly visited his family and had recently talked about wanting to return to his roots.

Mrs Owen described her husband as a larger-than-life character, who had a great sense of humour.

``He always made his presence felt,'' she said.

His sister Carole said: ``Everything he applied himself to do he did so well, even down to playing the piano. …