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Celebrating 60 years of microbiology at Reading

Her Majesty the Queen in microbiology

Her Majesty The Queen talking to undergraduate microbiology students in 1992. She came to the University to open the new AMS wing building

'We are proud of the illustrious history of microbiology at Reading and the leading role many former colleagues have played in furthering the understanding of infectious diseases.' Professor Simon Andrews, Head of Biomedical Sciences

Colleagues and students, past and present, along with microbiologists from professional and industry partner organisations such as the Society for General Microbiology are gathering on Friday 7 September to celebrate 60 years of microbiology at Reading and the continuing success of the  country's longest running degree programme in microbiology.

As part of the celebration, the AMS Wing will be renamed the Knight Building in memory of BCJG Knight DSc (1904 - 1981), the first Head of the Department  of Microbiology. The first unified BSc degree in Microbiology in the UK was launched at the University in 1952, following the setting up of the Department in the previous year. Since then, the Department (now integrated into the School of Biological Sciences) has played a leading role in microbiology research in the UK, exemplified by visits by many eminent microbiologists including seven Nobel Laureates such as Alexander Fleming. In more recent times, Her Majesty The Queen opened the AMS wing building in 1992. 

Professor BCJG Knight already had an international reputation for his pioneering work on nutritional requirements of micro-organisms and the action of bacterial toxins before joining Reading. He was directly involved in developing the second world war immunisation programme against tetanus and gas gangrene, he helped establish the Society for General Microbiology in 1945 and was founding editor of the Journal of General Microbiology (now Microbiology).

Some research highlights of past Reading microbiologists include: contribution to the world-wide eradication of smallpox (Prof Colin Kaplan); the rare honour of having a species named after  one (Methylobacterium zatmanii, Dr Len Zatman for his work on carbon compounds); elucidation of attenuation of polio virus and appointment to  the government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory committee following the 1996 BSE outbreak (Prof Jeff Almond); Fleming award in 1995 to Dr Jane McKeating for her work on HIV.

Over the last 10 years, with the aid of genomic and structural biology technology, microbiologists at Reading have continued to probe fundamental processes in bacteria and viruses and their applications. Colleagues are known for their work on MRSA, the SARS virus and many infectious agents including influenza virus, foot and mouth disease virus and prion protein. 

Professor Simon Andrews, Head of Biomedical Sciences said: "We are proud of the illustrious history of microbiology at Reading and the leading role many former colleagues have played in furthering the understanding of infectious diseases. Today, we are continuing that legacy, conducting research into the function of viruses and viral proteins and many aspects of bacterial biology including host-pathogen interactions, iron homeostasis and protein secretion and teaching future generations of microbiologists to take forward this hugely important work."

60 years of microbiology in photos >>>

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