Obituary: Professor William Hayes

William Hayes, geneticist: born 18 January 1913; Lecturer in Bacteriology, Trinity College Dublin 1947-50; Senior Lecturer in Bacteriology, Postgraduate Medical School of London 1950-57; Director, MRC Molecular Genetics Unit 1957-68, Honorary Director 1968-73; FRS 1964; FRSE 1968; Professor of Molecular Genetics, Edinburgh University 1968-73; Professor and Head of the Department of Genetics, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University 1974-78; FAA 1976; Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar, Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology 1979-80; Visiting Fellow, Botany Department, ANU 1980-86; married 1941 Honora Lee (one son); died 7 January 1994.

WILLIAM HAYES will be remembered primarily for two outstanding achievements: first, his discovery of transferable virus-like genetic elements between bacteria, and secondly for his superb classic textbook: The Genetics of Bacteria and Their Viruses (1964), which is written in beautifully clear and readable English.

It was in the early Fifties that I got to know Bill Hayes and we were deeply influenced by what seemed to be complementary interests, involving (on his side) the genetics and (my own) the biochemistry of bacteria. It seemed inevitable that we should feel strongly that we might combine to teach and research in building what could be an approach to a complete molecular biology of micro-organisms.

It appeared obvious that our two groups of workers, one exploring the biochemistry of enzyme production in bacteria and Hayes's Medical Research Council Unit of Bacterial Genetics should be joined together, and this was helped immeasurably by his personal charm and generous forbearance. It only remained for Edinburgh University to seize the opportunity through the talented foresight of the then Vice-Chancellor, Sir Michael Swann, and so institute in 1968 the first teaching department of molecular biology in a British university.

Bill Hayes had been ill for some time before he finally had a coronary thrombosis, with the usual complications, which ended his life earlier this month.

He had been out of touch with science and his former colleagues, but was cared for with love by his wife, Nora, in a retirement home near Sydney, Australia, where he had moved following his departure from the Australian National University in Canberra, having left Edinburgh University in 1973.

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 People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin