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Rupert E. Billingham dies

Founding father of organ transplantation dies, aged 81.

Emma Hitt(emma@emmasciencewriter.com)

Rupert Everett Billingham, a scientist considered by many to have founded the fields of reproductive immunology and organ transplantation, died in Boston, Massachusetts, on 16 November from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 81 years old.

Billingham was born in Wiltshire, England, the son of a fish merchant and the grandson of a dairy farmer, which he regarded as a fortunate qualification given his later experiments involving cows.

During the Second World War, Billingham served a four-year stint on a Navy anti-submarine escort. His naturalist tendencies surfaced even then, by his own account, when he was "summoned to the bridge," and "verbally torn apart" after dissecting a washed-up fish on his Captain's desk. (Billingham RE, "Reminiscences of a 'transplanter,'" Transplant Proceedings, 1974).

After the war, Billingham returned to the University of Oxford to complete his graduate studies under the supervision of Peter Medawar. In 1947, Medawar moved from Oxford...

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