About the University of Leicester

Ken Jones

Kenneth (Ken) Milner Jones was born in Chesham Bois, near Amersham, on 20 March 1930 and was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School, Sandy Lodge, Middlesex.

After National Service as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1948-49, mostly at Celle RAF Base in West Germany, where he was involved in the Berlin Airlift, Ken was admitted to Oxford to read Biochemistry and was subsequently awarded a first-class degree, the first ever awarded in that subject by the University. Following this, he completed a DPhil at Oxford under the supervision of Bill Elliot, before being awarded a Guinness Research Fellowship to work in the Microbiology Unit at Oxford from 1956-60. He then spent a year as a Research Associate at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, funded by a Fulbright Scholarship.

On returning to the UK in 1961, Ken was a founding member of the University of Leicester Department of Biochemistry, with Hans Kornberg and Gareth Morris. He was later instrumental, with Hans Kornberg and other Departmental Heads, in setting up the School of Biological Sciences, the first such School in the UK, and was Chairman of the School from 1971-77. He was also involved in the establishing the University Medical School in 1975. Alongside all of these activities, Ken served a term as General Secretary to the Society of General Microbiology and seven years on the Editorial Board of the Biochemical Journal.

Ken was an excellent administrator and first class lecturer. He was a mentor to younger members of staff and was a highly respected member of the Department of Biochemistry for three decades. His research interests continued to be in microbial biochemistry. One of his PhD students, Frank Gannon, went on to be Executive Director of EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation). Ken retired from the Department in 1990, but continued to work for the University, as an advisor on chemical safety and security, and for the Wellcome Trust, as an advisor on potential laboratory sites.

In his younger days Ken was an active sportsman with a particular interest in rugby and athletics. He was also a good tennis player and a uniquely memorable spin bowler, being the only player to have taken all ten wickets in a single innings for the Department of Biochemistry. After the match he was presented with the ball, which he proudly kept on his desk. In later life Ken was a keen supporter of Leicester Tigers Rugby Club.

Ken was married to Rosemary (née Galliver) for almost 70 years and together they had three children and four grandchildren, all of whom survive him.

Ken died on 13 May 2024, aged 94.

Obituary written by Colin Jones and Ron Cooper

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