Frederick Lawrence Pearce

Fred Pearce was awarded a first class honours degree in Chemistry from UCL in 1967 and a PhD in Biological Chemistry (supervisors Derek Banthorpe and Charles Vernon) in 1971. His thesis was entitled “Some Studies on Nerve Growth Factor”. Fred won numerous prizes at UCL culminating in the Ramsey Medal for the best PhD student of his year. He isolated, purified and characterized Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) from the venom of many different snakes and developed methods to isolate and culture chick sensory ganglia. Fred stayed at UCL and began his academic life as a Temporary Lecturer in 1973, followed by a post as Lecturer in 1975, Reader in 1985 and Professor in 1991. During this time he served not only those studying Chemistry (Departmental Tutor 1992-2000) but also the wider student body (Deputy Dean of Students 1996-2006) and his Faculty (Vice-Dean 1999-2000, Dean 2000-2006). His love for histamine and the mast cell began with a research visit to Aachen in 1976 to work with the late Wolfgang Schmutzler, who was a good friend of Charles Vernon. This visit sparked Fred’s lasting interest in mast cell heterogeneity and mechanisms of mast cell activation and inactivation. Research Council funding followed and for 3 years Madeleine and he explored methods to isolate viable tissue mast cells. Two sabbaticals to McMaster University with John Bienenstock’s group further developed his passion for mast cell heterogeneity and led to two papers on intestinal mast cells, which have been cited ca. 550 times. After taking up the post of Dean of the Faculty, his research output naturally decreased but he still receives about 60 citations per year. He has successfully trained 32 PhD students and many have stayed working in the area: Professor Kim Barrett is Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of California San Diego, Professor Alaster Lau is at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shamin Mustafa is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas, San Antonio; Hydar Ali is an Associate Professor at the University of Pensylvania; Pete Peachell and Bernie Gibbs are Senior Lecturers in Sheffield and Kent respectively, Graham Mackay is a Lecturer at the University of Melbourne; Zeina Jaffar is a post-doc at the University of Montana. John White is Head of Biopharm Discovery US at GSK and Steve Liu is Director for the Allergy & Respiratory Therapeutic Area at Pfizer Global Research & Development. Fred’s first EHRS meeting was in Paris (1976) and he helped organize the London meeting (1978) and the Brighton meeting (1983). He gave the GB West Memorial Lecture entitled “Mast Cell Heterogeneity” (1998, Lodz). Since 1976, Fred has attended almost every meeting. Fred was a member of the National Secretaries Committee and an elected Council Member. He regularly audits the society’s accounts. He acted as Publications Secretary and Editor for the proceedings for many years; where he improved both the English and the science of the submitted manuscripts. Fred is one of the “wise old men” of the Society. Those who were privileged to work with him know that his door was always open; as he leant back in his seat, he would think carefully about your question and give you a considered and helpful answer. Members of the Society regard him similarly; – we need a poster judge rapidly – Fred will help out; there are problems with a manuscript – Fred will cast his eye over it. Fred Pearce is a great researcher, teacher, mentor and true friend of the EHRS and all it stands for.