In Memory of Professor David Pegg, a strong supporter of the Palestinians, a founder of York PSC and a brilliant scientist

In Memory of Professor David Pegg, a strong supporter of the Palestinians, a founder of York PSC and a brilliant scientist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Memory of Professor David Pegg, a strong supporter of the Palestinians, a founder of York PSC and a brilliant scientist

Clinical scientist and academic who pioneered groundbreaking cooling techniques for use in organ transplantation

I met and spoke to David Pegg many times in the course of Palestine solidarity work, together with his partner, Monica Wusterman. He was a modest man, a dedicated and committed supporter of the Palestinians as well as a brilliant scientist.  Below are obituaries from BRICUP – the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine and The Guardian.  He will be sorely missed. 

Tony Greenstein

OBITUARY- David Pegg.

Colin Green and Monica Wusteman

BRICUP is very sad to announce the death on August 3rd of David Pegg. David, a member of our committee, initiated our Newsletter and edited it for almost a decade. Dedicated to the cause of Palestinian rights, he also campaigned tirelessly on a number of fronts, including lobbying members of European Parliament, EU diplomats and members of the Commission on behalf of both BRICUP and the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD). David was also one of the founder members of York Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a Trustee of IMET 2000, an international medical education charity which deals with the training of surgeons, nurses, physicians and with those dealing with the child victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. IMET 2000 operates extensively in the West Bank and Gaza. (https://www.imet2000.org/)

David was also a very eminent clinical scientist with an international reputation. One of the pioneers in the field of low temperature biology, David made perhaps his greatest contribution through research into the preservation of human kidneys. He and his colleagues worked up simple flushing techniques to sophisticated methods which are now used worldwide and allow organs to be maintained for up to thirty hours and function well after transplantation.

Later he pioneered new freezing techniques that have proved to be helpful in preserving plant cells for agriculture, fish reproductive cells for fish farming and, in the field of conservation, cells from endangered species of plants and animals.

David graduated from Westminster Medical School in 1956. He was awarded his MD in 1963, his MRC Path in 1967, the William Julius Mickle Fellowship in 1968 and FRC Path in 1998. At the Westminster Medical School he began to work on organ transplantation alongside the transplantation pioneer Roy Calne, an experience that led to his career in low temperature biology.

He joined the Medical Research Council at Mill Hill in 1967 and, in 1970 was promoted to Head of Division of Cryobiology in the newly built MRC Clinical Research Centre in Harrow. He moved to Cambridge in 1978 to work once more alongside Roy Calne as Head of the MRC Medical Cryobiology Group in the University Dept of Surgery. In 1992 he set up the East Anglia Tissue Bank in the National Blood Service in Cambridge and was Director for a year. He then moved to York and was Director of the Medical Cryobiology Unit in the University from 1993 to August 2006. He was an Honorary Professor in the Biology Department from 1999 to 2018.

In the whole field of low temperature biology, David was unique in his eclectic understanding. To add to this he had a great capacity to inspire and support young scientists in the field and many hundreds owe their own careers to him.

David Pegg obituary

Clinical scientist and academic who pioneered groundbreaking cooling techniques for use in organ transplantation

Colin Green Tue 15 Oct 2019

David Pegg made perhaps his greatest contribution through research into the preservation of human kidneys, which he began in 1965

In the early days of organ transplantation one of the thorniest problems facing medical science was how to keep an organ functional in the period between harvesting it from a donor and inserting it into a grateful recipient. David Pegg, who has died aged 86, did much towards solving that conundrum, and so enabled us to take for granted our capacity to stop the clock of life by freezing or cooling an organ before restarting its normal function.

One of the pioneers in the field of low temperature biology – building on the work of Audrey Smith, Christopher Polge and Peter Mazur – David made perhaps his greatest contribution through research into the preservation of human kidneys, which he began in 1965.

From dubious survival times of eight hours or fewer, by using simple surface cooling through surrounding the kidney in ice, he and his colleagues at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in north London worked on techniques whereby a plastic tube was inserted into the renal artery and the organ was flushed with a cold solution of balanced salts and nutrients to cool it from within. This was far more efficient.

As a further step, David developed sophisticated continuous perfusion methods, getting fluids to pass through a closed circuit that could be used to cool the kidney, and even mimic blood to provide oxygen and essential nutrients. Both techniques are now used routinely in organ transplantation services worldwide and allow organs to be maintained for up to 30 hours and function well after transplantation. Later he pioneered new freezing techniques that have proved to be helpful in preserving plant cells for agriculture, fish reproductive cells for fish farming and, in the field of conservation, cells from endangered species of plants and animals.

Born in Chester, David was the son of Philip, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Evelyn (nee Middleton), a teacher. He went to Dr Challoner’s grammar school in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and then King’s College London to study medicine. He did his clinical undergraduate studies at Westminster medical school in London and after graduating in 1956 served in the school’s teaching group for a year, before working in its department of pathology for a decade from 1957, specialising in haematology.

It was at Westminster medical school that David first became intrigued by all the possibilities of organ transplantation and started working with the surgeon and organ transplant pioneer Roy Calne. They were faced with two big problems: how to prevent rejection of an organ once it had been transplanted and how to prevent damage to an organ once a potential donor had died. While Calne set about working on the former, David addressed the latter, spending much of the rest of his career concentrating on tissue and organ preservation.

In 1967 he left Westminster to join Smith, the leading scientist in the field at the time, as a senior scientist in the division of low temperature biology at the MRC’s clinical research laboratories in Mill Hill. Three years later he was promoted to head of cryobiology – the study of the effects of low temperatures on living things – at the MRC’s new clinical research centre at Northwick Park hospital, Harrow, and remained there until attracted to Cambridge by Calne to become head of the MRC’s medical cryobiology group in 1978.

He stayed there until 1992, when he set up the East Anglia Tissue Bank at the National Blood Service in Cambridge, serving as its director for a year. Then he was director of the medical cryobiology unit at York University (1993-2006), and an honorary professor in the biology department (1999-2018).

Recognising the potential global impact that cryobiology could have so many areas, he was a key figure in the field, setting up the international Society for Cryobiology in 1964, helping to start its journal, Cryobiology, of which he later became editor in chief, and becoming the society’s president in 1974.

Two years earlier he had visited Ukraine to set up collaborations with low temperature scientists that endure today. He also pursued other links with the then Soviet bloc in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and helped many young scientists behind the iron curtain to expand their research vision. He had a general interest in justice and human rights and studied the possibilities for international conflict resolution, particularly in the Middle East. In 1965 David founded the British Society for Low Temperature Biology, which has now expanded to cover Europe, and twice served as its secretary.

In 1977 he married Monica Wusteman. She survives him, along with their children, Owen and Elly, his sons Andrew, Tim and Simon, from his first marriage, to June (nee Gossett), which ended in divorce, two grandsons and four granddaughters.•

David Pegg, clinical scientist, born 22 June 1933; died 3 August 2019

 

 

 

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