It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our well-loved and respected colleague, Professor George Stevenson who passed away peacefully in Oxfordshire on 1st July.
He was born and grew up in Sydney, attended North Sydney Boys’ High, Sydney University Medical School and was pathologist at Prince Alfred Hospital. He won a Nuffield PhD scholarship to Oxford University in 1962, then with his wife, Professor Freda Stevenson, established the Tenovus Cancer Research Group at Southampton University.
During his career, George pioneered the idea that antibodies could be used to treat cancer. He oversaw a hugely productive and world-leading programme of research that provided evidence that the immune system could be targeted against specific molecules on the surface of cancer cells. Working with colleagues in the Tenovus Research Laboratory, he went on to publish a series of seminal works describing methods for isolating markers from certain cancers and targeting these with antibodies. Together with his friend and colleague Terry Hamblin he conducted important first in human investigations and showed how antibodies worked, their limitations, and developed ideas for improving their efficacy. George was one of the first to use protein engineering as a method to enhance the potency of anti-cancer antibodies and tested these improvements in patients. In 1982, his contribution to the field led to him being the co-recipient of the first Armand Hammer Award for Cancer Research. He went on to train and inspire the next generation of researchers to investigate cancer immunotherapy, including Martin Glennie and Tim Elliott. He is fondly remembered by the antibody community.
Outside of work, George led a busy social life, enjoying squash, chess and understanding how things work, especially his favourite subject – clocks, which he spent time building and repairing. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends including his wife Prof Freda Stevenson and three sons, James Philip and Neil.
He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Southampton in 2017.