Obituary: Professor Martin E Gore CBE

The death of Professor Martin E Gore CBE

A statement from the British Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and formers members of the UK Gene Therapy Advisory Committee

It is with great sadness that the news of Martin’s death has rippled through the medical world. Martin, of course, is most famous for his internationally-leading research on cancer; with over 35 years service at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Yet, for many of us working in gene therapy, he is best known for his outstanding work first as a member, and subsequently Chair, of the UK Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC).  GTAC was formed in 1993 following the recommendations of the 1992 Clothier Committee Report on the ethics of gene therapy, and tasked to both consider and advise on ethical grounds the use of gene therapy medicinal products in the UK and importantly, to act as an advisory committee to UK health ministers. Martin became GTAC Chair at a critical time for gene therapy. He was an outstanding GTAC Chair and will be remembered for his professionalism, dedication, depth in knowledge and excellence while leading and empowering the Committee. In doing so he played a major role in shaping the field not only in the UK but internationally.

Martin’s combined good science with humanity and indeed humour. He is an author of the definitive paper on the correct dosing of carboplatin for treating ovarian cancer which is now taught to oncologists all over the world. He would frequently visit patients at home if he was concerned about them, worrying above and beyond the call of either contracts or duty. His sense of humour also made life feel better for everyone. There was a legendary Christmas Review at the Marsden where there was a sketch on contraception. Martin was dressed up as “Sammy Sperm” and was consistently thwarted in his advances to Madam Ovary. He still answered when certain people addressed him as Sammy for many years.
For those of us who were members of GTAC, working with Martin was a privilege and a pleasure. He was a truly wonderful individual, with the ability to inspire people from many walks of life. On the other side of the fence, the physicians and scientists that applied to GTAC for protocol approvals found his guidance and leadership of enormous help while trying to plot a way through un-navigated clinical waters. Today of course, we are in a world of commercialisation and adoption of gene therapy as standards of care for a number of devastating conditions. We are proud of Martin’s contribution to this remarkable success story.

On behalf of the many scientists, clinicians, patients, ethicists and lay members of the public that knew Martin through his work for GTAC, we acknowledge and celebrate the enormous impact Martin’s work had on shaping the UK gene therapy landscape. His wisdom be greatly missed.

Andrew Baker, former BSGCT president and former GTAC member
Adrian Thrasher, former BSGCT president
Len Seymour, former BSGCT president
Uta Griesenbach, current BSGCT president
Mary Collins, former GTAC member
Hilary Calvert, former GTAC member
Claire Foster-Gilbert, former GTAC member
Rachel Haynes, former GTAC member
Justin Turner, former GTAC member

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