28 June 2022 News

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore

Colleagues at the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association are deeply saddened to hear today about the death of our Patron, and former President, Professor Sir Colin Blakemore.

Sir Colin first supported our work significantly in 2007 when, as Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC), he suggested the MRC and the MND Association jointly fund Fellowships for young MND clinicians. This work continues today, through the Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowship programme, and over the years has invested millions of pounds in attracting, training and retaining world leading MND researchers.

After leaving the Medical Research Council Colin became our President in 2008, standing down to become a Patron in 2019 following his move to Hong Kong. He excelled in his role as science communicator, and through his written blogs and appearances on national media he was able to explain the latest developments in MND research in simple terms, which helped the MND community understand what the news meant for them.  He introduced the Association to contacts at NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and was therefore instrumental in the development of the national NICE guideline for the management of MND which were published in 2016.  And he regularly spoke at, and hosted, the annual MND Association Research Dinner, most recently in 2018, alongside our Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal.

In 2014 Colin was Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list ‘for services to scientific research, policy and outreach’, and he said to the Association at the time that he hoped the honour would serve as an encouragement to all scientists who give some of their time to public service and public engagement.  In addition to the work Colin did for the Association he was also involved with many other charities and organisations.

Since his diagnosis with MND in 2021 the Association’s relationship with Colin has changed, and we have been able to provide him with support: giving advice, information and equipment to him and his family, and working with healthcare professionals through our network of Association-funded MND Care and Research Centres and Networks.

“The world has lost one of its most eminent neuroscientists and the Motor Neurone Disease Association has lost a great friend. We are especially saddened that – having spent so many years of his life supporting people living with motor neurone disease – Colin should be subsequently diagnosed with MND himself. Despite his diagnosis Colin remained in touch with the Association and – as recently as last month – he had a meeting with our speech and language team, showing great interest in their plans and offering his advice and support with their work. Typically of Colin, he gave his very precious time to help our work, all for the benefit of others.”

Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development at the MND Association, who worked with Colin for over 15 years

We offer our sincere condolences to Colin’s family and his many friends and colleagues around the world.

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