Sir Christopher Martin Dobson, FRS, FMedSci (8 October 1949 – 8 September 2019) was a British chemist, who was the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, and Master of St John's College, Cambridge.
Dobson in 2014
Christopher Martin Dobson
8 October 1949
|Died||8 September 2019 69) (aged|
Sutton, London, England
|Thesis||The conformation of lysozyme in solution (1975)|
Early life and education
Dobson was born on 8 October 1949 in Germany, where his father, Arthur Dobson was commissioned as an officer. Both Arthur Dobson and Christopher Dobson's mother, Mabel Dobson (née Pollard), were originally from Bradford in Yorkshire and had left school at age 14. Dobson had two older siblings, Graham and Gillian. Due to his father's postings, Dobson also lived in Lagos, Nigeria.
Christopher Dobson was educated at Hereford Cathedral Junior School, and then Abingdon School from 1960 until 1967. He completed a Bachelor of Arts and D.Phil at the University of Oxford (Keble and Merton Colleges, respectively).
Dobson's research largely focused on protein folding and protein misfolding, and its association with medical disorders particularly Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. By applying chemical and biophysical techniques, Dobson investigated links between protein structure, function, and disease.
He is well-known for his serendipitous discovery that ordinary proteins can misfold and aggregate to form amyloid structures.
“A postdoc who left his sample of an unfolded protein in an NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] spectrometer over a long weekend discovered, on his return, that it had turned into a gel. We were curious about this phenomenon and found that the NMR tube was full of amyloid fibrils that we then thought were associated only with diseases.”— Christopher M. Dobson, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/professor-sir-chris-dobson-obituary-z6s3t7jzq
Dobson held Research Fellowships at Merton College and then Linacre College before working at Harvard University. He returned to Oxford in 1980 as a Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and as a University Lecturer in Chemistry, later receiving promotions to Reader, then Professor of Chemistry in 1996.
Dobson moved to the University of Cambridge in 2001 as the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology. In 2007, he became the Master of St John's College, Cambridge, a post which he held until his death in September 2019.
Awards and honours
Professor Dobson was knighted in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his contributions to science and higher education. In 2009, Dobson was awarded the Royal Medal by the Royal Society "for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms of protein folding and mis-folding, and the implications for disease", and in 2014 he received both the Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Feltrinelli International Prize for Medicine. Dobson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1996. His nomination reads:
Dobson is distinguished for his studies, principally using NMR methods, of the structures and dynamics of proteins in solution. Such studies include those on lysozyme, with which he demonstrated many methodological advances, interleukin-4, with which he established for the first time the topology of the important family of haemopoietic helical cytokines, and urokinase-type plasminogen activator, with which he elucidated the dynamic characteristics of multidomain fibrinolytic proteins, Dobson is a pioneer in the application of NMR methods to the problem of protein folding, which is now the major theme of his work. His studies on lysozyme are resulting in one of the most detailed descriptions of a folding pathway for a protein. Dobson has explored the properties and reactions of molecules in solids by means of NMR spectroscopy, including proteins, organometallic compounds, inorganic paramagnets and the silicaceous components of hydraulic materials. Notable here are analyses of the nature and origin of dynamic properties in molecular solids, and their relationship to structure and reactivity.
Dobson's other accolades include:
- Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 1981
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Scholar, 1992
- Brunauer Award, American Ceramic Society, 1996
- Fellow of the Royal Society, 1996
- Dewey and Kelly Award, University of Nebraska, 1997
- National Lecturer, American Biophysical Society, 1998
- Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation, 1999
- Interdisciplinary Award, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 1999
- Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Leuven, Belgium, 2001
- Presidential Visiting Scholar, University of California San Francisco, 2001
- Bijvoet Medal, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2002
- Silver Medal, Italian Society of Biochemistry, 2002
- Royal Society Bakerian Lecturer, 2003
- Stein and Moore Award, The Protein Society, 2003
- Honorary Member, National Magnetic Resonance Society of India, 2004
- Fellow of The Academy of Medical Sciences, 2005
- Honorary Doctor of Medicine, Umea University, Sweden, 2005
- Davy Medal, The Royal Society, 2005
- Hans Neurath Award, The Protein Society, 2006
- Honorary Doctor of Medicine, University of Florence, Italy, 2006
- Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Liège, Belgium, 2007
- Sammet Guest Professor, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, 2007
- Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2007
- Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance, 2008
- Honorary Fellow, Linacre College, University of Oxford, 2008
- Honorary Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, 2008
- Honorary Fellow, Merton College, University of Oxford, 2009
- Honorary Fellow, Keble College, University of Oxford, 2009
- Royal Medal, The Royal Society, 2009
- Honorary Fellow of the Chemical Council of India, 2010
- Khorana Award, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010
- Honorary Doctorate of Science, King's College London, 2012
- Honorary Fellow, Trinity College Dublin, 2013
- Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, 2013
- Honorary Fellow, Darwin College, University of Cambridge, 2014
- Dr. H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), 2014
- Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for Medicine, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, 2014
- Member of the American Philosophical Society, 2018
- Carol V. Robinson (University of Oxford, UK)
- Sheena E. Radford (University of Leeds, UK)
- Michele Vendruscolo (University of Cambridge, UK)
- Tuomas T.P.J. Knowles (University of Cambridge, UK)
- Fabrizio Chiti (University of Florence, Italy)
- Harald Schwalbe (Wolfgang Goethe University, Germany)
- Jenny J. Yang (Georgia State University, United States)
- Kevin W. Plaxco (University of California Santa Barbara, United States)
- Cait MacPhee (University of Edinburgh, UK)
- Brenda A. Schulman (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany)
|Scholia has an author profile for Chris Dobson.|
- "Chris Dobson - CV". Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- List of publications from Microsoft Academic
- "DOBSON, Prof. Christopher Martin". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. 2014 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
- "Professor Sir Chris Dobson obituary". The Times. 12 September 2019. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
- "Chemistry Prizes" (PDF). The Abingdonian.
- Dobson, Christopher Martin (2014). The conformation of lysozyme in solution (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford.
- "Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, master of St John's College, Cambridge, dies at 69". Cambridge Independent. 9 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- Chris Dobson's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
- "Tributes paid to Master of St John's College who has died age 69". St John's College Cambridge. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- "New research facility for neurodegenerative disorders opened in Cambridge". University of Cambridge. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- "Knighthood for Prof Christopher Dobson, master of St John's College, in recognition of ground-breaking Alzheimer's research". Cambridge Independent. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- "Cambridge spinout grabs $23M round to launch a new campaign to tackle protein misfolding". Endpoints News. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- "Knighthood for eminent scientist Sir Christopher Dobson". Lady Margaret Hall. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
- "EC/1996/06: Dobson, Christopher Martin". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 30 September 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Bijvoet Medal". Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
- "Master receives Honorary Degree from King's College London | StJohns".
- "Fellows & Scholars : Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland".
- "2013 NAS Members and Foreign Associates Elected".
- "Christopher M. Dobson — KNAW".
- "Feltrinelli International Prize awarded to Chris Dobson | Department of Chemistry".
- "Election of New Members at the 2018 Spring Meeting | American Philosophical Society".
- "Paying tribute to Chris Dobson". www.rsc.org. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
| Master of St John's College, Cambridge