Donald Forsdyke was born in London, England, and educated at Berkhamsted School. In 1961 he graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School (now the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine) at London University. After internships in medicine, psychiatry and surgery, he obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. He has been in the Department of Biochemistry at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, since 1968. He has published over 80 scientific papers in journals such as Nature, The Lancet, Leukaemia, and the Journal of Theoretical Biology. His research has been supported by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the J.P. Bickell Foundation (Toronto), the Cancer Research Society (Montreal), the Leukaemia Research Fund (Toronto), the Medical Research Council of Canada, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the Physicians Services Incorporated Foundation, and Queen's University.
While a graduate student he produced the first of the “two signal” hypotheses of lymphocyte self/not-self discrimination, which have played an important role in the development of ideas in immunology (1-3). In the 1970s he presented a differential affinity model by which lymphocytes learn to discriminate self from not-self. This process, now known as “positive selection”, has gained considerable experimental support (4, 5), as has the concept that the immune system would be specially adapted to recognize “near self” (6-8), or slightly “altered self” (9). He and his associates were the first to clone the human gene messages for (i) a component of a powerful AIDS virus inhibitor (the chemokine now known as MIP1α, whose receptor assists virus entry into cells; 10-12), and (ii) a regulator of intracellular signalling which is overexpressed in acute leukaemias (now called RGS2; 13, 14).
Recent work, as part of the Human Genome Project, involves computer analyses of DNA (“bioinformatics”) aimed at discovering a “Rosetta Stone” which will permit the full interpretation of the information both in our own genetic material, and in the genetic