Cyril Clarke

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Human Scientists

Sir Cyril Astley Clarke ( 22 August 1907– 21 November 2000) was a British physician, lepidopterist and geneticist.

Cyril Clarke's school education was at Wyggestson Grammar School in Leicester and Oundle School near Peterborough. His interest in butterflies and moths began at school. His studied natural science at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University and then medicine at Guy's Hospital, London. During the Second World War he worked as a medic in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Clarke is well known for his work on Rh disease of the newborn. He helped to developed the technique of giving Rh-negative women inter-muscular injections of anti-RhD antibodies during pregnancy to prevent Rh disease in their newborn babies. This was one of the major advances in preventive medicine in the second half of the 20th century.

Clarke answered an advert in an insect magazine for swallowtail butterfly pupae that had been placed by Philip Sheppard. They met and began working together in their common interest of lepidoptery. From 1959 they started running a moth trap in Caldy Common near West Kirby, Wirral, England. They studied the peppered moth, the scarlet tiger moth and swallowtail butterfly. They published papers on the genetics of lepidopera and also on Rh disease. Clarke continued research in his retirement and in 1988 he rediscovered a Scarlet Tiger Moth colony on the Wirral Way, West Kirby, that had been started in 1961 by Philip Sheppard. The colony was useful for study of the genetics of changes in populations.

He was married Frieda (or Féo) in 1934. Lady Féo Clarke died in 1998. Cyril Clark died in 2000. They had three sons.

Career and awards

  • Second World War - Medic in Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
  • 1947 to 1958 - Part-time Clinical Lecturer at Liverpool University, England.
  • 1958 to 1965 - Reader at Liverpool University, England.
  • 1965 to 1972 - Professor of medicine at Liverpool University, England.
  • 1969 - CBE
  • 19 March 1970 - FRS
  • 1972 to 1977 - President of the Royal College of Physicians of London
  • 1974 - Knighted
  • 1980 - Prof Cyril Clarke together with Dr Ronald Finn, Dr John Gorman, Dr Vincent Freda, and Dr William Pollack were awarded a Lasker Award for clinical medical research. This was for their research work on the Rhesus blood group system, the role of Rhesus D antibodies in the causation of Rh disease and the prevention of Rh disease.
  • 1981 - Awarded a Linnean Medal from the Linnean Society of London.
  • 1990 - Awarded a Buchanan Medal from the Royal Society of the United Kingdom for work on Rh disease.
  • 1992 - Honorary Degree given by the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.

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