Tony Minson has been thrust into the headlines with the biggest controversy to hit the University of Cambridge since he became pro vice-chancellor in August.
There was a time when government permission to build a primate research centre would have been straightforward good news. But escalating costs mean the centre may yet be unfeasible. At a time when one can count the number of people who speak out regularly about animal research on two hands, Professor Minson has given interviews about the importance of primate research to a string of newspapers and radio news programmes.
He was determined that what he saw as "(an) unequivocal message of support for neuroscience in the UK" from the government should not be lost. He stressed that a primate research centre was essential to the nation if we were to combat a number of devastating neurological diseases.
As a scientist, Professor Minson is well qualified to participate in this often-emotive debate. Since 2001, he has been chair of the council of the School of Biological Sciences at Cambridge, and he was appointed professor of virology in 1991.
Professor Minson was born in Ilford, Essex. He completed his first degree in Birmingham in 1965 and he then became a postgraduate student at the Australian National University, conducting research on fungal genetics. He came to Cambridge as a senior research associate in 1976.
He is a member of the governing body of the Institute for Animal Health, and a member of the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine.
Professor Minson is the first of a proposed five new pro vice-chancellors at Cambridge. A source within the university told The THES that internal university newsgroups had been discussing whether these positions should command higher salaries because of the risks associated with advocating the primate centre.
News, page 6