'Godfather' of Gene Therapy Knighted; Wales' Stem-Cell Research Team Leader 'Astonished'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

'Godfather' of Gene Therapy Knighted; Wales' Stem-Cell Research Team Leader 'Astonished'


Byline: Madeleine Brindley

THE 'godfather' of stem cell research in mice says his knighthood is an early birthday present from the Queen.

Professor Martin Evans is at the forefront of the current research into breakthrough stem cell therapies which could herald cures for some of the biggest killers known to man.

Sir Martin, who is the head of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, receives the award and title for his services to medical science in a career spanning 40 years.

And it comes a day before he celebrates his 63rd birthday at home in Cardiff with his family. His wife Judith, a former practice nurse, was awarded an MBE 10 years earlier for services to nursing.

Sir Martin, a father of three, told The Western Mail, 'It has come out of the blue and is a lovely surprise. I'm absolutely delighted and absolutely astonished.

'The Queen has given me an early birthday present.'

It is hoped the honour will also boost the work and the profile of the fledgling Wales Gene Park, of which Sir Martin is a member of the executive management team.

Sir Martin, who intends to finish his career in Wales after joining Cardiff University four years ago, discovered embryonic stem cells in mice 20 years ago.

The discovery has had an enormous impact on medical science and has led to a huge amount of cutting-edge research on the cells which have the ability to change into any other type of cell the body requires.

It is hoped that stem cells could hold the answer to many of the most devastating diseases and genetic conditions.

Superman actor Christopher Reeve believes stem cells could help him to walk again after he was paralysed from the neck down in an accident. …

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