Christopher John Lamb CBE. 19 March 1950 — 21 August 2009

Joanne Chory, Rod Casey


Chris Lamb was one of the most influential plant biologists of his time. He was director of the Plant Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute and of the John Innes Centre, two of the world's leading plant and microbial research institutions. He was recognized by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the most highly cited researchers worldwide in plant and animal science. His field of study was plant–pathogen interactions, and he made seminal contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of plant defence. His efforts led to discoveries such as how cell wall composition influences microbial entry, which plant genes are rapidly induced on infection, and the role of reactive oxygen and nitrogen intermediates in plant defence signalling. His work demonstrated a number of links between defence responses in plants and in animals. He believed that plant and microbial science research could be used to improve the world, and he took his belief to the local communities, to regional and national media and to Westminster. He had a skill for talent spotting, and one of his major legacies is the number of careers that he nurtured and are now flourishing at universities and institutes across the world.


  • * Rod Casey worked closely with Chris Lamb on the John Innes Centre Management Board until his retirement in 2006.