Many people in our community, both throughout the UK and internationally, had the pleasure of meeting, studying or working with Chris Dobson, who sadly died this week.
Our president, Professor Dame Carol Robinson, leads the tributes to Chris, having worked with him at the University of Cambridge. Carol says: "I first met Chris on my return to science after some eight years out of research raising my young family.
"For many years now, I have realised just how fortunate I was to have had Chris as my mentor upon my return. Chris gave me back my confidence: he told me to concentrate on what I did know – not what I didn't – and made me see my absence as positive, rather than negative. Chris also encouraged me to aim high and to ask the right questions. Indeed Chris is one of the most creative and imaginative scientists I have ever known.
"For me, I have never forgotten the encouragement and values Chris gave to me. The huge outpouring of tributes these last days is testament to the impact he made to so many lives. He will be sorely missed – not only as an outstanding scientist but also as a compassionate and caring friend and colleague."
This year, Chris Dobson and his colleagues at the Cambridge Centre for Misfolding Diseases were awarded our prestigious Rita and John Cornforth Award: "For groundbreaking collaborative interdisciplinary research on the molecular origins and the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders".
Karen Stroobants, now a policy advisor at the Royal Society of Chemistry, was a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellow under the supervision of Chris Dobson, at the Centre for Misfolding Diseases. She said: “Legacy is not only in ‘what’ but also in ‘how’, and so Chris leaves two legacies; one in the form of a record of ground-breaking science, and another as the community of students and researchers by whom he’ll be greatly missed.
"We will remember him as an incredibly kind and supportive supervisor, who always made himself available, and as an extraordinary mentor."
In 2018, Chris received a knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in her Birthday Honours list. His citation reads:
Professor Sir Christopher M Dobson BSc MA DPhil CChem FRSC FRS, Professor, Chemical and Structural Biology and Master, St John's College, University of Cambridge, for services to Science and Higher Education.
In the summer of 2018, Chris Dobson was a plenary speaker at the EuChemS international chemistry congress, which we hosted in Liverpool.
He told us about the exciting potential applications in his research. His group are looking into potential therapeutic treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinsons, Motor Neurone Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Professor Dobson said: "It's hard to overestimate the significance of these diseases. There are already 40 million people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and, of course, we know the social as well the economic costs of this. In the next 25 years, that number will increase threefold because of the ageing population, because the incidence is much higher over the age of 65."