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Professor Sir Martin Evans legacy celebrated by School of Biosciences

2 March 2023

Sir Martin Evans portrait
Left to right: Professor Ian Weeks, Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Professor Sir Martin Evans FRS and Keith Breeden, artist.

Extraordinary achievements of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist and inaugural School Director recognised at celebration

An event was held on March 1 celebrating the legacy of Professor Sir Martin Evans FRS in the building named after him.

Sir Martin was instrumental in the creation of the School of Biosciences and became its first Director after the merger of two schools in 1999. He holds the accolade of being the only winner of a Nobel Prize during tenure at Cardiff University.

To mark the occasion, a portrait of Sir Martin was unveiled in the foyer of the School of Biosciences.

Sir Martin said: “Students, after lectures, would often ask ‘what do I need to know?’ My (possibly infuriating) answer was alwaysyou need to understand the subject’.

“I hope for many years to come, long after I have gone, this artificial abstracted image, wrought in pigment and oil in woven cloth will, in the future, look down kindly over a thriving school in a great university and reiterate for me: ‘You need to understand’.”

Professor Jim Murray, Head of School of Biosciences, who has known Sir Martin since an undergraduate at Cambridge University, said: “This unveiling of Martin’s portrait in the building named after him recognises his major contributions to the University as Chancellor, following on from his leadership of the School of Biosciences through a period of major developments.

"This is in addition to his scientific achievements in the development of embryonic stem cells which were recognised in the award of the Nobel Prize."

Former Heads of School, Professors John Harwood and Ole Petersen CBE FRS also gave speeches at the event, which was attended by Sir Martin and his family, members of the Vice-Chancellor’s office and past and current Cardiff University colleagues.

The portrait, painted by Keith Breeden, was commissioned in recognition of Sir Martin’s roles as President of Cardiff University from 2009-2012 and Chancellor from 2012-2017.

Sir Martin was the first scientist to identify embryonic stem cells, which can be adapted for a wide range of medicinal purposes. In 2007, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for a series of ground-breaking discoveries concerning embryonic stem cells and DNA recombination in animals.