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SLATER, Edward Charles ‘Bill’ OBE (1917-2016)

Prof Edward Slater.

Prof Edward Slater.

SLATER, Professor Edward Charles ‘Bill’ OBE (1917-2016)

Professor Edward Slater, biochemist, and pioneering researcher into mitochondrial energy metabolism became an internationally acknowledged scientist.

Born on 16 January 1917, he lived in Elwood until he was about 10 years old, at which time his father was transferred to Geelong as engineer for the western district of the then government owned Victorian Railways. He entered Geelong College as a day student on 9 February 1927 continuing until December 1934. He recounted that he played in the 2nd XI Cricket Team and played football and tennis while at School, though only when he grew taller in his last years at the School. He described the then science master ‘Tam’ Henderson as a great influence on his life and career. In 1934, Slater became School Dux. On leaving school he received a small college scholarship and a university scholarship and went to Ormond College where he completed a Science Degree in 1938 and his Masters the following year.

He first commenced employment in 1939 at the start of World War II at the Australian Institute of Anatomy where he continued until 1942. While at the Institute he met and married Marion in 1940. In 1942, he had sought a transfer to the Chemical Defence Section of Munitions Supply in Melbourne but later returned to Canberra in about 1944. In 1946, Slater left Australia, after securing a position to work on enzymes at the Molteno Institute at Cambridge University, England. He also worked towards his PhD which was awarded in 1948. He continued research at Cambridge until in May 1955 he was appointed to the Professorship of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam. While at Amsterdam he joined the executive committee of the International Union of Biochemistry, becoming treasurer from 1971 to 1979 and President from 1988 to 1991. During this period he was recognized by a number of institutions. In 1956, he was awarded the Medal of the University of Brussels; in 1961 the Koninklijke Shell Prize; in 1965 the Gold Medal of the University of Bari, Italy; in 1966 the Half-Century Medal of Societe de Chimie Biologique.

In 1984, his work in Holland was recognised by his receipt of a knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands Lion at a ceremony at the University of Amsterdam. He also received the Medal of the Society for Promotion of Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery of Amsterdam that year. He retired in 1985 to Lymington, Hampshire where he continued his great love of sailing while continuing an active role in biochemical publishing. His sister Pat (1919-1990), had become an army nurse during World War II and, after attending university in Seattle, USA, played an important role in the introduction of nursing as a university subject in Australia and was awarded the OBE.

'Bill' Slater died at Gloucester, England on 26 March 2016.

'Bill' Slater was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.

Career Highlights

1936 - 1971 President of the Biology Section of the Society for the Promotion of Physics, Medicine and Surgery of Amsterdam
1938 Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at the University of Melbourne
1938 - 1939 Science Demonstrator at the University of Melbourne
1939 Master of Science (MSc) completed at the University of Melbourne
1939 - 1946 Biochemist at the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra
1942 - 1943 Seconded to Munition Supplies Laboratory
1946 - 1955 Research Fellow at Molteno Institute, University of Cambridge
1948 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) completed at the University of Cambridge, UK
1955 - 1985 Professor of Physiological Chemistry and Director of Laboratory of Physiological Chemistry (later the Laboratory of Biochemistry) at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
1956 Medal of University of Brussels received
1960 Doctor of Science (ScD) received from the University of Cambridge
1961 Koninklijke Shell Prize received
1965 Gold Medal of University of Bari, Italy received
1966 Half-century Medal of Société de Chimie Biologique received
1969 - 1975 President of the International Union of Biochemistry Commission of Editors of Biochemical Journals
1979 - 1981 Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Institute Internazionale di Genetica e Biofisica in Naples, Italy
1979 - 1981 Chairman of Board of Managing Editors of Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
1980 - 1982 Chairman of the Evaluation Committee of the Biochemistry of the Netherlands Ministry of Education and Science
1984 Knight of the Order of the Netherlands lion
1984 Medal of Society for the Promotion of Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery of Amsterdam received
1985 - Visiting Professor to the Biochemistry Department of the University of Southampton, UK (multiple visits)
1985 - Corresponding Member of the Australian Academy of Science
1988 - 1991 President of the International Union of Biochemistry.

Sources: Abstract : Slater: A Life of Research in Mitochondria Energy Metabolism London: Biochemical Society, 1993 (Film). Ad Astra: December 1984; The Age (Melb) 2 April 2016 (Incorrect Date of Death); Correspondence M Smith (Executor). OGC 1929.
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