Professor William Jarrett: Celebrated veterinary scientist

 

When William Weipers was appointed director of the Glasgow veterinary school on its absorption into Glasgow University in 1949 he recruited a team of bright young graduates who earned Glasgow a unique place in the scientific spectrum. One of this group was William Fleming Jarrett. Jarrett, universally known as Bill, went on to establish an international reputation for his work on the viruses causing cancer – work that led to major developments in the treatment of the disease in animals and humans. He was instrumental in developing the research that identified the viruses causing leukaemia and Aids.

This work had its roots in a clinical investigation. A number of cats in a Glasgow household all developed a type of cancer: lymphoma. Jarrett was asked to investigate. He reckoned the disease must be contagious, although cancers had not previously been thought to be transmissible in this way. Eventually he discovered a virus was responsible, the feline leukaemia virus.

Jarrett and his colleagues refined techniques for identifying the virus and to develop a vaccine against it, with the result that the feline leukaemia has been virtually eliminated. Collaboration with scientists from the US International Cancer Institute led to studies of human viral cancer and the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus, the cause of Aids.

By 1964, when the feline investigation began, Jarrett's career was in full swing. In 1952, he was one of a group which developed a vaccine against a disease of cattle, parasitic bronchitis ("husk"). Widespread, particularly in Western Scotland, husk was the cause of major economic loss.

The disease was caused by a helminth, the lungworm. By a combination of microbiological and immunological techniques it proved possible to modify the lungworm larvae by irradiation so that it produced immunity to infection by the natural strain without itself causing the disease. The vaccine, produced commercially as Dictol, is still in use.

A later development was a study of cancers in cattle which was behind the production of a vaccine against the viruses that cause cervical cancer in women. A high incidence of stomach cancers in Highland cattle was found to be due to a papillomavirus. The virus itself, however, produced only a benign form of tumour. It was only when the animals grazed bracken that the virus became virulent: Jarrett found that the plant contained a factor that triggered malignancy. A bovine papilloma vaccine was developed that was the model for the human product.

Jarrett's interest in the possible application of the results from studying animal diseases to similar conditions in humans began early: as part of his PhD studies he spent time studying human pathology at Glasgow Western Infirmary.

Appointed a lecturer in 1952, he was soon promoted to Reader in Pathology, He spent his entire career at Glasgow, apart from a secondment to Kenya in1963 as part of a group charged with setting up a veterinary school in Nairobi. While there, he found time to study the bacterium responsible for causing East Coast fever (theileriosis), a cattle disease with serious consequences for the cattle-based economy of the area.

While in his thirties, Jarrett was appointed to a personal professorship in 1965, then in 1968 to a university chair as Professor of Pathology.

His talents were by not confined to research; he was regarded as an inspirational teacher and popular co-worker. One of his student contemporaries (and later colleague), now Sir James Armour, said, "He never seemed to do much work but always came top in exams". In his younger days he was an accomplished jazz trumpeter, guesting with a popular local band, the Clyde Valley Stompers.

William Fleming Jarret, FRS,FRSE, FRCVS, PhD, veterinary scientist: born Glasgow 2 January 1928; married 1952 Ann Fraser Sharp (deceased; two daughters); died 27 August 2011.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines