Professor Garth Hastings has died at the age of 86.
Professor Hastings was one of the early pioneers in the field of biomaterials science. He made significant breakthroughs in a number of areas, in particular in the development and uses of bioceramics, carbon fibre, polymers and titanium.
His book with Bernard Bloch, Plastics in Medicine, published in 1969, was the first in this field. He went on to author more than 200 publications in the field of biomaterials science. He also published several books, including the Handbook of Biomaterial Properties with Jonathan Black.
He was the founding editor of the journal Biomaterials which grew to become the most important European journal in the field and was on the editorial board of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, the world leading journal.
Professor Hastings was born in Portsmouth in 1932. He spent a peripatetic childhood during the war years, moving from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, Newbury, Cleethorpes and Chandlers Ford, where he recalled senior military officers poring over maps planning for D-day in a room of the roadhouse run by his parents. One of the other guests was Sydney Camm, the designer of the Hurricane fighter plane.
Following the war, the family settled in Darlington where his mother and father bought and ran a transport café on the Great North Road. An inquisitive child, always looking to learn from the world around him, the young Garth Hastings attended the King James I Grammar School in Bishop Auckland where his love of science grew, in particular chemistry.
In 1953 he gained a place at Birmingham University to study chemistry, the first in his family to go to university. Following his first degree, he was awarded a PhD at Birmingham, working on polymers under the guidance of Sir Harry Melville - he was awarded a DSc from Birmingham University in 1980.
On leaving university, he moved to London, working as a science officer at the Ministry of Aviation and living in Chingford. It was there he met and married his wife Theresa in 1958.
In 1961, they moved to Australia where Garth was appointed senior lecturer in chemistry, specialising in polymers, at the University of New South Wales. It was here that his focus on biomaterials began to develop and flourish.
His academic career took him far and wide. He was visiting Professor at the Twente University in Holland and Karlsruhe University, Germany. On return from Australia to the UK in 1972 he became Head of the Bioengineering Unit at Staffordshire University and Professor of Biomedical Engineering. He then became Senior Fellow in the Department of Materials and Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials at Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London. He was Visiting Professor in Bioengineering at Strathclyde University and in 1995 became Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore and Director of Biomaterials in their Institute of Materials Research & Engineering.
In 1975 he became a consultant for UNIDO for medical uses of materials and for more than 25 years in the role worked on numerous projects and programmes in China, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia - where he and his wife were awarded honorary citizenship.
For over 30 years he was involved in standards for medical materials and devices, actively driving work in this area. He was an inaugural member of the Australian Standards Association and had a 25 year involvement with BSI and ISO on surgical implants, chairing the BSI committee for a number of years and leading the UK implant delegation to ISO for 10 years.
He was President of the Biological Engineering Society for two years and represented them on the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee and a committee of the Royal College of Surgeons.
He passionately believed in the importance of sharing knowledge and that science advances through the open exchange of research, ideas and information. It was a passion that took him around the world to host and contribute to conferences, bringing people together to spark ideas and explore new avenues of research in the quest to find solutions to challenges in biomaterials science.
Though he loved travel, he was more than just a visitor. He immersed himself in and developed deep and abiding connections with the people, culture and values of the many countries where he visited, worked in and lived. He was driven by a curiosity about the world and its people, and a hunger to learn about and experience new things.
Throughout his life he was guided by a deep faith. He took a degree in theology in 1967 while in Australia and became a lay preacher. He always believed there was an intimate relationship between his passion for scientific exploration and learning and his Christian faith.
In 2010, Professor Hastings was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and his health gradually started to deteriorate as the condition developed.
Professor Hastings died peacefully on 3 March 2019 surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Theresa, their four children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.