Professor C. Anthony Hart

Researcher into infectious diseases
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The Independent Online

Charles Anthony Hart, microbiologist: born Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham 25 February 1948; Research Fellow, Department of Medical Microbiology, Liverpool University 1977-86, Professor of Medical Microbiology 1986-2007; married 1971 Jennifer Bonnett (three daughters); died 21 September 2007.

C. Anthony Hart, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Liverpool University, was one of the very first and very few clinical scientists to engage both in medical and veterinary science. His work on infectious diseases had great relevance for both developed and developing countries, and in particular for children, and was conducted in the true spirit of Pasteur.

Hart was born in Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, in 1948 and was educated at St Michael's College, Leeds, and the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London University, from where he graduated in Medicine in 1972. He also studied for an intercalated BSc degree in Biochemistry during his undergraduate medical training.

His academic supervisors recall an incredible enthusiasm for hard work, which did not, however, lessen his ability to maintain a humorous outlook in most situations. A senior university colleague recently described him as "a kind of glue that held us all together".

In 1977 he was appointed Registrar in Clinical Pathology for Liverpool Health Authority and Research Fellow in the Department of Medical Microbiology, Liverpool University, qualifying for membership of the Royal College of Pathologists in 1982, and during this time completed his PhD in Biochemistry.

He remained at Liverpool University for the remainder of his career, being appointed its youngest Professor of Medical Microbiology in 1986, at the age of 38. He acted as a Regional Microbiologist for the North-West and held an Honorary Consultant appointment at the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Alder Hey.

Tony Hart had a lifelong interest in membranes and the science of cells and translated this into a matrix of applied laboratory, clinical and epidemiological research studies on infectious diseases. His primary interest was in paediatric infections and this led to ground-breaking work on meningitis, rotavirus diarrhoea and respiratory infections in children. This was brought into a global context through his long-standing collaborations with research staff in the Child and Reproductive Health Group at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

As one of the first scientists with a medical training to engage also with veterinary science, he had a huge effect on young graduates in Liverpool and across Britain. He supervised more than 100 PhD and MD theses; his door was always open and visitors received a friendly welcome.

With 750 peer-reviewed publications to his name, he was a prolific researcher. He participated in many university, national, Royal College and other research committees and received national and international lecture invitations.

Despite his achievements, Hart lacked any form of pomposity. He had a friendly but gentle way of calling his laboratory staff and colleagues, whether male or female, "Old Gal", "Old Boots" or "Toots" and frequently greeted you with "Hello, sunshine" as a welcome. These "Tonyisms" were his trademark. His lectures were popular and interspersed with humour. he would frequently remind his audience that many of the cells in our bodies are bacteria and that, as a result, only 10 per cent of us is human.

His family was at the centre of his life and Tony Hart and his wife, Jenny, provided many memorable evenings at their home for friends and colleagues.

Bernard Brabin