Lives of the fellows

George Lees Taylor

b.26 June 1897 d.9 March 1945
MB ChB Manch(1920) MD Manch(1930) PhD Cantab(1932) MRCP(1940) FRCP(1944)

The death of George Taylor at the early age of forty-eight robbed medicine of a most able worker in the field of genetics. He was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, where his father, Albert, was a schoolmaster; his mother was Sarah Harriet Lees. After a distinguished under-graduate career at Manchester University, two years of house appointments and seven years of general practice he went to Cambridge as John Lucas Walker student under Professor H. R. Dean. His work was mainly serological, and within six years his papers on precipitin reactions (J. Hyg. (Lond.), 1932, 32, 340-48, etc.) had established his reputation as a consistently sound investigator. He was therefore the ideal choice as director of the new special department for the study of blood groups in relation to human genetics, opened in 1935 as the Galton Laboratory at University College, London.

He was the first to establish reliable methods and criteria for the A, B, O groups, the M and N factors, and other group factors recently described. Following study in Denmark with Friedenreich he worked till 1939 on the distribution of blood groups in Britain and on such rarities as Huntington’s chorea and acholuric jaundice, and on the outbreak of war took charge of the Galton serum unit in the pathology department at Cambridge. Without Taylor’s contribution this country would not have seen the swift development of the reliable Blood Transfusion Service that was made available to the Services and hospitals.

He laboured ungrudgingly to maintain adequate supplies of standard reagents, the difficulties attending which were insufficiently appreciated. At the same time he continued his scientific work on the Rh factor, describing within two years, with the help of willing collaborators, seven of its allelomorphs and four different types of the anti-Rh serum, and thus clarifying the then confused state of American terminology.

With little time for his hobbies of golf and motoring, Taylor was a quiet, unassuming leader, always generous in helping others to unravel the abstruse and difficult aspects of his special field. In 1929 he married Elsie, daughter of Shepherd Whewell, a farmer. They had one daughter.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1945, 1, 463-4; Lancet, 1945, 1, 452; Nature (Lond.), 1945, 155 569; Science, 1945, 102, 55.]

(Volume V, page 405)

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