Walter Bodmer

Walter Fred Bodmer

(1936-01-10) 10 January 1936 (age 88)[6]
EducationManchester Grammar School
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA, PhD)
(m. 1956; died 2001)
Scientific career
ThesisThe study of population genetics and gene effects, with special reference to Primula vulgaris and the house mouse (1959)
Academic advisorsRonald Fisher[2]
Doctoral students
Sir Walter Bodmer
Walter Bodmer presenting at the ICG-18 conference in Nanjing. China

Sir Walter Fred Bodmer FRS FRSE (born 10 January 1936[7]) is a German-born British human geneticist.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Early life

Bodmer was born in Frankfurt, Germany.[15] He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and went on to study the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge as a student of Clare College, Cambridge. He was awarded his PhD in 1959 from Cambridge for research on population genetics in the house mouse and Primula vulgaris (primrose) supervised by Ronald Fisher.[2]

Career and research

In 1961 Bodmer joined Joshua Lederberg's laboratory in the genetics department of Stanford University as a postdoctoral researcher, continuing his work on population genetics.[16] In 1962 Walter Bodmer was appointed to the faculty at Stanford. He left Stanford University in 1970 to become the first professor of genetics at the University of Oxford [1].[17]

Bodmer developed models for population genetics and worked on the human leukocyte antigen system and the use of somatic cell hybrids for human linkage studies. In 1985 he chaired a Royal Society committee which wrote The Bodmer Report; this has been credited[18] with starting the movement for the public understanding of science.[19]

Bodmer was one of the first to suggest the idea of the Human Genome Project.[20] In 1987 he received the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine. He was the director of research (1979–1991) and then director general (1991–1996) of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He was also chancellor of the University of Salford, England (1995–2005; succeeded by Sir Martin Harris) and principal of Hertford College, Oxford (1996–2005; succeeded by Dr. John Landers).

In 2005, Bodmer was appointed to lead a £2.3 million project (roughly US$4.5 million) by the Wellcome Trust at the University of Oxford to examine the genetic makeup of the United Kingdom – the People of the British Isles project. He was joined by Oxford Professor Peter Donnelly (a population genetics and statistics expert) and the Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow Lon Cardon. Bodmer said, "Our aim is to characterise the genetic make-up of the British population and relate this to the historical and archaeological evidence." The researchers presented some of their findings to the public via the Channel 4 television series "Faces of Britain". On 14 April 2007, Channel 4 in Britain aired a program that highlighted the study's then-current findings. The project took DNA samples from hundreds of volunteers throughout Britain, seeking tell-tale fragments of DNA that would reveal the biological traces of successive waves of colonisers – Celts, Saxons, Vikings, etc. – in various parts of Britain. The findings showed that the Viking invasion of Britain was predominantly from Danish Vikings while the Orkney Islands were settled by Norwegian Vikings. This research was most recently presented at the Galton Institute's conference on 'New Light on Old Britons' in 2019.[21] Bodmer had previously worked with the Galton Institute as its president from 2008 to 2014.[22]

He has been head of the cancer and immunogenetics laboratory in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford since 1996.[23] Research interests of the laboratory include the fundamental genetics and biology of colorectal cancer.

Honours and awards

Bodmer has won numerous awards including:

His certificate of election to the Royal Society reads:[25]

Distinguished for his theoretical and experimental contributions to genetics. His analyses of population genetics models, especially human, his contribution to the understanding of bacterial transformation, to the understanding of the HL-A system, and to the use of somatic cell hybrids for human linkage studies are outstanding. Few scientists have contributed distinguished work in such a range of fields, and involving such a range of experience of techniques, mathematical and experimental, and such a range of organisms.

Personal life

Bodmer's father was Jewish so the family were obliged to leave Nazi Germany; in 1938, they settled in Manchester, England. In 1956, Walter Bodmer married Julia Bodmer (née Pilkington) 1934–2001; she also became a well-known geneticist. They had two sons and a daughter.[6] Lady Bodmer died in 2001.



  1. ^ Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. (1981). "The William Allan Memorial Award: Presented to Walter F. Bodmer, PhD, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics New York, September 24–27, 1980". American Journal of Human Genetics. 33 (5): 659–63. PMC 1685126. PMID 7027789.
  2. ^ a b c Walter Bodmer at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Feldman, Marcus (1979). Some topics in theoretical population genetics (PhD thesis). Stanford University. OCLC 651748270.
  4. ^ Goodfellow, Peter Neville (1975). Biochemical and Genetic Studies of Human Tissue Antigens (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 500453850. EThOS
  5. ^ van Heyningen, Veronica (1973). Mitochondrial and other Enzymes in Somatic Cell Hybrids. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 500471367. Free access icon
  6. ^ a b Anon (2015). "Bodmer, Sir Walter (Fred)". Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U7957. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ The Times 10 January 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010 (subscription required)
  8. ^ Leslie, S; Winney, B; Hellenthal, G; Davison, D; Boumertit, A; Day, T; Hutnik, K; Royrvik, E. C.; Cunliffe, B; Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2; International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium; Lawson, D. J.; Falush, D; Freeman, C; Pirinen, M; Myers, S; Robinson, M; Donnelly, P; Bodmer, W (2015). "The fine-scale genetic structure of the British population". Nature. 519 (7543): 309–14. Bibcode:2015Natur.519..309.. doi:10.1038/nature14230. PMC 4632200. PMID 25788095.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Rodrigues, N. R.; Rowan, A; Smith, M. E.; Kerr, I. B.; Bodmer, W. F.; Gannon, J. V.; Lane, D. P. (1990). "P53 mutations in colorectal cancer". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 87 (19): 7555–9. Bibcode:1990PNAS...87.7555R. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.19.7555. PMC 54786. PMID 1699228.
  10. ^ "Prof Sir Walter Bodmer FRS, Weatherhall Institute for Molecular Medicine". University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Walter Bodmer: Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory". University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015.
  12. ^ Hemminki, A.; Markie, D.; Tomlinson, I.; Avizienyte, E.; Roth, S.; Loukola, A.; Bignell, G.; Warren, W.; Aminoff, M.; Höglund, P.; Järvinen, H.; Kristo, P.; Pelin, K.; Ridanpää, M.; Salovaara, R.; Toro, T.; Bodmer, W.; Olschwang, S.; Olsen, A. S.; Stratton, M. R.; de la Chapelle, A.; Aaltonen, L. A. (1998). "A serine/threonine kinase gene defective in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome". Nature. 391 (6663): 184–7. Bibcode:1998Natur.391..184H. doi:10.1038/34432. PMID 9428765. S2CID 4400728.
  13. ^ Bodmer, W; Bonilla, C (2008). "Common and rare variants in multifactorial susceptibility to common diseases". Nature Genetics. 40 (6): 695–701. doi:10.1038/ng.f.136. PMC 2527050. PMID 18509313.
  14. ^ Walter Bodmer's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  15. ^ "BSI HONORARY MEMBER: Sir Walter Bodmer". British Society of Immunology. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  16. ^ "Early Computers at Stanford". Stanford University. Archived from the original on 13 August 2014.
  17. ^ Conversation with Walter Bodmer, San Francisco, 4 Dec.2010
  18. ^ Sloman, Steven; Fernbach, Philip (2017). The Knowledge Illusion. London: Macmillan. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-5098-1106-9.
  19. ^ "Public Understanding of Science, 1985". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013.
  20. ^ "HUGO presidents". Archived from the original on 8 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Past Events – The Galton Institute". Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  22. ^ "Past Presidents – The Galton Institute". Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Walter Bodmer". Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  24. ^ "Walter Fred Bodmer". 13 October 2023.
  25. ^ a b "EC/1974/01: Bodmer, Walter Fred". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Sir Walter Bodmer FMedSci FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 9 October 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Walter Bodmer".
  28. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  29. ^ "| British Society for Immunology".
Academic offices Preceded byThe Duchess of York Chancellor of the University of Salford 1995–2006 Succeeded bySir Martin Harris Preceded byChristopher Zeeman Principal of Hertford College, Oxford 1996–2005 Succeeded byJohn Landers