Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. There are over 200 forms of the disease, some of which can be diagnosed early and treated easily, and others that form aggressive, destructive growths that destroy the body from the inside out. One common method of treating the disease is chemotherapy, where drugs are used to kill the rapidly dividing cells that cause tumours to grow. On paper, this sounds great – except rarely are these drugs specific to cancer cells alone. They also kill normal, healthy parts of the body – such as the cells in your bone marrow, which are capable of producing millions of blood cells per second.
25 years ago, Professor Sir David Weatherall laid the last paving slab during construction of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, marking completion of the new part-MRC funded unit. Bryony Graham looks into the remarkable career of a man who, aged 80, can still be found at his desk in the institute which now bears his name.