Christopher John Lamb (1950–2009) made major contributions to the field of plant defense gene activation, particularly through his studies on signal transduction mechanisms. Between 1994 and 2004, he published a series of seminal papers that outlined the involvement of hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide, lipid transfer proteins, and aspartic proteases as critical components of local and/or systemic resistance during plant-microbe interactions. Prior to this, he had been one of the first to establish the fact that induced defense responses resulted from transcriptional activation of sets of coordinately regulated genes. Chris obtained his B.S and PhD degrees in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, moving to the Botany School at the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral fellow in 1975 and to the Biochemistry Department in Oxford as a Departmental Demonstrator in 1978. He was appointed founding director of the Plant Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California in 1982, and occupied the last ten years of his life as Director of the John Innes Center, Norwich, United Kingdom. In spite of spending most of his career as a director at two of the world's most prestigious institutes, formal recognition of his achievements came late in life, with election to the Royal Society of London in 2008 and endowment of the honor of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his contributions to British plant science by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. Sadly, Chris did not live to attend the official ceremony at which he would receive his CBE.


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