Testimonials for Pioneer Member Chris Lamb

Richard Dixon – I will never forget the first time I met Chris. He had just finished his PhD at the University of Cambridge and joined the Botany School at the University of Oxford as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Vernon Butt’s Laboratory. I was in the same laboratory, in the final year of my PhD but working under a different supervisor. It was 1975. I hadn’t met anyone like Chris before. I could tell after only a few minutes that this was someone who was going to do something important in his life. Chris combined these “serious” traits (and he could be very serious) with a warm personality allied with a dry sense of humor, and we quickly became close friends and collaborators. Our first joint paper was published in FEBS Letters in 1978, and was the start of a 26 year collaboration that resulted in 114 publications, many of which appeared in top international journals. Working together gave me a really close-up appreciation of Chris’ powers as a visionary thinker.

Throughout his career, Chris showed the highest degree of scientific integrity, and was a tireless campaigner for support for plant science research. He was remarkably generous to those who worked in his lab as students, postdoctoral fellow or visiting scientists. It is notable that many of these people were allowed to take the projects they had initiated under Chris’ supervision to their new jobs, and one of Chris’ major legacies is the number of careers he nurtured which are now flourishing at major universities and research institutes throughout the world. Of course, it is an understatement to say that he was also an incredible “talent spotter” as regards the faculty hires he made.

Chris’ other legacy is the wonderful memories that so many people have of the sheer fun of doing science with someone who was at once a great leader, a visionary, a caring father figure, a lover of all the good things in life, and the possessor of a most wonderful sense of humor.

Beat Keller – Chris Lamb was my postdoctoral advisor when he was at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. He introduced me into plant molecular biology during 1986-1989 and the stay in his lab has shaped my next professional steps and in fact my whole career.

Anne Osbourn – Chris Lamb was a visionary leader and an outstanding mentor. I had the privilege of working with him during his time at the John Innes Centre. He had a great sense of humour, even in times of adversity. Although he passed away over ten years ago, I find that I often think of him when faced with seeming insurmountable problems and challenges, and I wonder – ‘What would Chris say? What would he do?’ And I get a lot of comfort from thinking about the funny side of things that he may have seen, even in the hardest of times.

John Ryals – I came in to Plant Biology and Plant Pathology as a total newbie. Never took a course and had no credibility at all. Chris was one of the first and the few to accept what I was doing early on. He helped me in the early days and I will forever be grateful. Rest in Peace, Chris Lamb.

Ken Shirasu – Chris gave me an opportunity to do science in an excellent environment. Without having met him early in my career, I would not been here. We had a lot of fun in San Diego and Norwich especially when eating sushi together. Thank you, Chris, for your time with me.

Detlef Weigel – My time at the Salk Institute was incredibly important for my science, including my approach to mentoring and paying it forward. Although Chris, a pioneer of molecular plant-pathogen studies, was not raised as a geneticist, he recognized the power of genetics and recruited first Joanne Chory and then me to the Salk’s Plant Biology Laboratory. Little did Chris know that after we had both left the Salk, I would transmute into a part-time plant pathologist. The current work of my lab is a testament to Chris’ outsized intellectual influence.