Skip to main content

Beatty, Richard Alan, 1915-2005 (reproductive biologist)


Richard Alan Beatty (who was always known as Alan) was born on 26 April 1915 in Belfast. His father, Richard Thomas Beatty, was a physicist from an Irish Protestant background. The family moved to London in 1922, where Alan Beatty attended St Paul's School. In 1934, he entered St John's College, Cambridge on a scholarship, graduating in 1938 with second class honours in the Natural Sciences Tripos. He remained in Cambridge as a PhD student at the Zoology and Biochemistry Departments, on a grant from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
On the outbreak of war he received a commission from the Royal Artillery, serving at home and abroad. He had reached the rank of Major in the Royal Army Service Corps by 1944, by which time he was working as a War Department Analyst.
In 1946, demobilised with the honorary rank of Captain, Beatty was appointed Senior (later Principal) Scientific Officer at the Genetics Laboratory of the Animal Breeding and Genetics Research Organisation (ABRO). He finally achieved his PhD from Cambridge in 1950 on 'The Pigmentation of Cavernicolous Animals' and 'Effects of Chemical and Genetics Factors on Embryonic Development'.
In 1957 Beatty joined the staff of the Agricultural Research Council Unit of Animal Genetics, based within the Institute of Animal Genetics, and the following year he was awarded the title of Research Fellow in the University of Edinburgh's Department of Animal Genetics. Beatty's research over much of his career was concerned, in his own words, with 'where reproductive biology and genetics overlap.' He developed a particular interest in the genetics of the gamete (i.e the environmental and genetic factors that determine a germ line cell to develop its particular characteristics), and in the effect of the gametic phenotype on the qualities of the embryo. He was associated with the initial discovery of chromosome aberrations in the developing mammal and achieved the first successful non-surgical transfer of mammalian eggs. He worked with crustacea, Drosophila, amphibia, laboratory and farm animals and to some extent, the human. Beatty supervised the PhD work of Robert G. Edwards, who was later to achieve Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010 for his work on 'test tube babies.'
From the late 1960s onwards, Beatty advocated for a Centre for Reproductive Biology to be established in Edinburgh. This concept was eventually realised in the late 1970s, with the Centre opening in 1980, after Beatty's retirement. Alan Beatty died in Edinburgh on 01 March 2005.
Beatty was awarded the Keith Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1962 for his research into the genetics of spermatozoa. He held the Senior Lalor Fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachussetts from May to August 1964, and in the same year, the University of Edinburgh awarded him the status of Honorary Senior Lecturer. He initiated and jointly organised (with Dr S.G. Waelsch) the International Symposium 'The Genetics of the Spermatozoon' in Edinburgh, which took place in August 1970.

Found in 7 Collections and/or Records:

Institute staff particulars, 1946-1950

 File — Box: EUA-A-65, Box: data_value_missing_e71748c0669dc4d524625c2a610ed07c, Box: data_value_missing_e726ec138d29fc94b541da6493930bdc
Identifier: EUA IN1/ACU/A1/6/2
Scope and Contents Contains completed staff particular forms of various Institute scientific and technical staff members, including: Charlotte Auerbach, Geoffrey Beale, Richard Alan Beatty, Thomas Carter, Douglas Falconer, Eric Reeve, J.M Rendel, Alan Robertson, Forbes Robertson and James Sang.
Dates: 1946-1950

Laboratory notes relating to experiments on chick embryos, [1947-1949]

Identifier: Coll-41/1/12
Scope and Contents Green notebook titled 'C.E.W. F Chick 37'. Contains some notes in a hand other than Waddington's.

The volume is undated, though some notes mention R.A Beatty and Boris Balinsky - the latter was based at the Institute of Animal Genetics between 1947-1949.
Dates: [1947-1949]

Papers of Richard Alan Beatty

Identifier: Coll-1364
Scope and Contents Contains: Coll-1364/1: papers relating to scientific research (1949-1982); Coll-1364/2: papers relating to grants from the Ford Foundation (1960-1983); Coll-1364/3: papers relating to lectures given by R.A Beatty (1948-1978); Coll-1364/4: papers relating to conferences and other events (1955-1982); Coll-1364/5: papers relating to reports and...
Dates: 1937-1993

Photograph album presented to Waddington by Institute staff on his 50th birthday, November 1955

 Item — Box: EUA IN1/ACU/A1/6/4
Identifier: EUA IN1/ACU/A1/6/4
Scope and Contents The volume contains various group and individual photographs of the Institute staff, as well as original paintings and drawings of Waddington in the mock-styles of various artists by Ruth Clayton and E.D Roberts. Some of the individuals feaured in the photographs are: Charlotte Auerbach, Boris Balinsky, Geoffrey Beale, Richard Alan Beatty, Alick Buchanan-Smith, George and Ruth Clayton, Hugh Donald, Douglas Falconer, Alan Greenwood, Henry Kacser, Mary Lyon, Eric Lucey, Margaret Perry, Alan...
Dates: November 1955