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Obituary: Emeritus Professor Don Elmore

Obituary: Emeritus Professor Don Elmore

Emeritus Professor Don Elmore

Emeritus Professor Don Elmore, who died aged 88 on 31 May this year, was an eminent enzymologist and Head of the Department of Biochemistry at Queen’s from 1971 until he retired to Oxfordshire in 1987.

As an undergraduate, Don studied Chemistry at Imperial College London during the second world war and, having completed his first degree in just two years, moved to Nottingham University in 1944 where he embarked on research leading to a PhD.  He then won a prestigious Beit Memorial Fellowship and, in 1949, joined the renowned laboratory of Sir Alexander (later Lord) Todd in Cambridge where he worked on the chemistry of DNA well before the discovery of its famous double helical structure. 

After Cambridge, Don held an assistant lectureship at Sheffield University for several years before taking up a lectureship in Biochemistry at Queen’s in 1957.  By then, he had shifted the focus of his research to proteins – the remarkable molecules that govern the metabolic processes of all living cells.  During his career, Don was to become an internationally recognised authority in his chosen field through his steady output of high impact research papers and the publication of his very successful textbook, Peptides and Proteins.

When Don came to Queen’s, Biochemistry was a small sub-department of the Medical Faculty whose primary function was to provide teaching for medical and dental students.  However, with the introduction of an Honours degree in Biochemistry for science students in 1967, the unit was expanded to become an independent Department and relocated from the main site to the newly built Medical Biology Centre.  Don, by now promoted to Reader, played a major part in these developments and was subsequently appointed to the JC White Chair of Biochemistry as Head of Department in 1971. During his tenure spanning the next sixteen years, he managed the departmental activities with quiet efficiency and characteristic dedication.  As an enthusiastic advocate of interdisciplinary research, Don initiated many collaborative projects between his own Peptide and Protein Research Group and other laboratories within the University on topics ranging from peptide synthesis to the roles of proteolytic enzymes in health and disease.   

Aside from his academic interests, Don enjoyed classical music and he read widely.  In a more leisured and collegial era, he was a talented member of the Queen’s Staff cricket team.   Above all, Don was a first-rate scientist who was always happy to share his insights and knowledge with fellow researchers.  He will be remembered with respect and affection by former students and colleagues alike.  Don is survived by his daughters Nicola and Melanie, her husband Chris Kirkpatrick, and three grandchildren.  

Emeritus Professor R.J.H. Davies

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