Inside Salk - October 2009 - page 17

The scientific community was saddened this
summer when
Chris Lamb
, the founding scientist and director
of the Salk Institute’s Plant Biology Laboratory, died suddenly
at age 59 inNorwich, England.
Aworld-renowned researcher who pioneered studies in
themolecular mechanisms that underlie how plants defend
themselves against pathogens, Lambwas recruited by former
Salk President Frederic deHoffmann fromOxford in 1983 to
establishwhat would become an extraordinary Plant Biology
program at the Institute.
In an interview last year for an Inside Salk cover story (Oct.
’08 issue) in celebration of the Plant Biology Laboratory’s 25
anniversary, Lamb recalled his thoughts in deciding to take de
Hoffmann up on the offer to establish a lab at the Salk.
“This seemed a fantastic, if somewhat risky, opportunity,”
Lamb said. “Fantastic because of Salk’s great prestige and
reputation in biomedicine and neurobiology. Risky, but exciting,
because I would be starting something from ground zero.”
Lamb left Oxford and headed for La Jolla, where he spent the
next 15 years conducting some of the groundbreaking work that
led him to become one of themost respected leaders in plant
biology research.
“Chris had a good sense of the big picture,” said Joanne
Chory, professor and director of Salk’s Plant Biology Lab, who
was recruited to the Institute by Lamb in 1988. “He was
focused and analytical, and always knew how tomove things
“Lamb had a real sense of the beauty of plant biology,” she
said. “Beyond his superb science, he will be remembered as the
founding facultymember of the Salk program and as an interna-
tional voice for the discipline.”
Lamb returned to England in 1998 to lead the John Innes
Centre, one of the world's leading institutions of plant research.
He promoted a culture of excellence there, and was recently
named a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his scien-
tific achievements.
In 2000 Lamb returned to Salk for a visit, saying he’d
come back to California “for a dose of optimism.” Chory said
he remained very fond of the Salk and spoke of how it had
influenced him.
Likewise, Lamb influenced the San Diego research land-
scape. Today, there are 16 Plant Biology principal investigators
across themesa (Salk, UCSD and Scripps), seven of whom are
members of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Chris’ legacy in La Jolla is not just his own science, but the
scientists he identified andmentoredwho havemade La Jolla
one of the top places for plant science in the world,” Chory said.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss.”
Plant Biology Lab Remembers
Founding Scientist Chris Lamb
Lamb had a real sense of the beauty
of plant biology…Beyond his superb
science, he will be remembered as
the founding facultymember of the
Salk program and as an international
voice for the discipline.
–Joanne Chory
Chris Lamb
From left: JosephP. Noel, Chris Lamb, Jeffrey A. Long, DetlefWeigel, JoanneChory, JamesUmen,
JosephR. Ecker at the 25th AnniversaryCelebration of Salk'sPlant Biology Lab last October.
Inside SalkOctober 2009
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