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Beale, Geoffrey Herbert, 1913-2009 (founder of malaria genetics, Royal Society professor)



Geoffrey Beale was born in Wandsworth, London, on 11 June 1913. He began his university studies in Zoology at Imperial College, London in 1931. However, he later switched to Botany, finding the teachers more stimulating, and was to gain his BSc with first-class honours in 1935.

In his third year of university, Beale completed a summer course in plant genetics given by staff at the John Innes Horticultural Institute, which gave him an interest in genetics that was to shape the course of his future career. Beale applied as a volunteer at the John Innes but was actually offered a job there by its temporary head, J.B.S. Haldane. There Beale began his PhD studies under Haldane and then Cyril D. Darlington. He received his PhD in 1938 for his thesis 'The genetics of Verbena.' From 1935 to 1940 Beale worked on a number of different projects, including the chemistry of flower colour variation being studied by Rose Scott-Moncrieff, and became proficient in classical genetics.

Beale was called up to the army in 1941 and was drafted into the Intelligence Corps (Field Security) at the rank of Corporal. As a result of his abilities in the Russian language, Beale was sent to Archangel and then Murmansk to facilitate the transportation of British troops and equipment. After a subsequent brief spell at the War Office in London, Beale was then sent to Helsinki as part of the Allied Control Commission. By the time he was demobbed in July 1946, he had risen to the rank of Captain, and he was awarded an MBE for his military service the following year.

After the war Beale took a job at Cold Spring Harbor, joining Milislav Demerec's laboratory working on the rate of mutation in Escherichia coli from phage sensitivity to resistance. Beale also worked for a spell with Tracy Sonneborn at Bloomington, Indiana, and it was then Beale developed his lifelong interest in the protozoan Paramecium.

In 1947, back at Cold Spring Harbour, he received a Rockefeller Fellowship which required him to return to the UK. He was duly offered a lectureship by C.H. Waddington at the Institute of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh where Beale continued his work on Paramecium. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1954 and Reader in 1959 before being appointed a Royal Society Research Professor in 1963, a position he held until his retirement in 1978. At the Institute, Beale became close friends with Henrik Kacser and Charlotte 'Lotte' Auerbach, about whom he would later write an account.

With funding from the University of Edinburgh and the Wellcome Trust, Beale was able to design and build dedicated research laboratories, including the Protozoan Genetics building for his research group. This group worked on the genetics of Paramecium and on protozoan parasites, and attracted visiting scientists from all over the world. Over the next few decades the research of Beale and his colleagues incorporated the effect of the cytoplasm on serotypes in P. primaurelia, symbionts and 'metagons' in Paramecium (although Beale later declared his 'metagon hypothesis' defunct) and mitochondria in Paramecium.

In the mid 1960s, Beale developed an interest in malaria genetics, and gained a grant from the Medical Research Council in 1966 to study the genetics of Plasmodium berghei. For this work, Beale recruited David Walliker, who would become a renowned malariologist, and together they established a mosquito colony, built an insectary, collected parasite strains and established rodent facilities for African tree rats. Richard Carter's work helped establish the parasite genetic markers, and the foundations of genetic analysis in malaria parasites were laid. Later research covered the genetic analysis of drug resistance, virulence and the classification of rodent malarias into species and subspecies.

In 1976, Beale was awarded a six-month Royal Society Visiting Professorship to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and established a collaborative research programme on malaria with Professor Sodsri Thaithong as well as a malaria research laboratory which was designated a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre. This collaboration continued for more than 20 years, with the Edinburgh and Bangkok laboratories being linked by a research focus on drug resistance and strain diversity. This phase of Beale's career laid the groundwork for many other scientists working on parasite diversity and genetics, and in 1996 Beale was awarded an honorary DSc from Chulalongkorn University, one of the first foreigners to be so honoured.

Beale married Betty MacCallum in 1949 (they were divorced in 1969) and he would often take their three sons to the laboratory with him on Sundays where they would learn about science and film printing techniques. Beale travelled extensively and maintained contact with a variety of colleagues around the world. He held strong views on progressive education, the impact of science on society and the role of the state in science. Beale continued to work at the laboratory every day well after his retirement. After 1998 he began work on a new book on Paramecium to show the advances and new directions of research in the area. However, Beale's health was deteriorating and much of the later writing was done by co-author John Preer Jr. The book, Paramecium: Genetics and Epigenetics, was published in 2008, when Beale was 95 years old. Beale died in Edinburgh on 16 October 2009.

Found in 12 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information on Institute Staff, c.1930-1933

 File — Box EUA-A-65, Box: data_value_missing_61ada11aba2f2046ddd5e67ed247d4aa, Box: data_value_missing_e70d76e9a08956b45b77104a63785c8a
Identifier: EUA IN1/ACU/A1/5/4
Scope and Contents Contains: bound typescript with handwritten annotations, titled 'Animal Breeding Research Department: List of Publications 1920-' (c.1930); typescript titled 'C.H Waddington - Publications 1929-1975'; photocopied typescript titled 'Publications of C.H Waddington 1963-1975'; typescript titled 'Publications of A. Robertson' (1949-1988); ...
Dates: c.1930-1933

Copy of Geoffrey Beale's biographical memoir of Charlotte Auerbach for the Royal Society, with photograph, 1995

 File — Box CLX-A-1537: Series Coll-1266/5
Identifier: Coll-1266/4/12
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Fonds: Consists of papers collated by Geoffrey Beale as part of the preparation of his biographical memoir of Charlotte Auerbach for the Royal Society, published in 1995. Contains: Correspondence regarding Beale's research about Auerbach, papers concerning Auerbach's family history, copies of Auerbach's obituaries, letters from colleagues to Beale concerning Auerbach and a copy of the Royal Society memoir itself;Cassette tapes of interview recordings made of Charlotte Auerbach by Geoffrey...
Dates: 1995

File titled 'Polish article', containing Geoffrey Beale's article in "Wsechswiat", 1957

Identifier: Coll-41/10/40
Scope and Contents

Contains copy of Polish journal Wsechswiat, 10 (1957), containing Geoffrey Beale's article 'Genetics of the Antigene of Paramecium aurelia, plus typescript of English translation and some related correspondence.

Dates: 1957

Group photograph of participants from the 1957 UNESCO symposium, 1957

Identifier: EUA IN1/ACU/A1/8/7
Scope and Contents

Photograph mounted on card and all participants attributed, including C.H Waddington, Geoffrey Beale, Guido Pontecorvo, Ewa Perkowska, Martin Pollock and H.G Callan.

Dates: 1957

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

Letters to Geoffrey Beale about Charlotte Auerbach, 1994-1995

 File — Box CLX-A-1537: Series Coll-1266/5
Identifier: Coll-1266/4/11
Scope and Contents

Contains letters sent to Geoffrey Beale relating to Charlotte Auerbach after Auerbach's death. Some letters were written in responsen to a circular which Beale sent around titled 'to friends of Lotte' in order to gain biographical details for his Royal Society biographical memoir of Auerbach.Correspondents include Inge Gudrun Linker, Yataro Tazima and Raphael Falk.

Dates: 1994-1995

Page mounted with four photographs, 1955

Identifier: Coll-1057/6/2/73
Scope and Contents

Recto: photograph of Josephine Peace in Constant Temperature Room at the Poultry Research Centre; photograph of chickens in a pen (both November 1955).

Verso: two photographs from a social event at the Institute of Animal Genetics: the first photograph shows Alick Buchanan-Smith, Hugh Donald, Charlotte Auerbach and Geoffrey Beale; the second photograph shows C.H Waddington, Helen Turner, Alan Greenwood and Eric Lucey. Pictures signed 'M.L.'

Dates: 1955

Papers of Geoffrey Beale, founder of malaria genetics and Royal Society professor

Identifier: Coll-1255
Scope and Contents Contains: Coll-1255/1: family and personal papers; Coll-1255/2: correspondence with individual scientists, including students and collaborators; Coll-1255/3: correspondence regarding Beale's publications, including press cuttings; Coll-1255/4: professional correspondence, including applications for positions, army service and early career; Coll-1255/5: notebooks and diaries, chiefly concerning experiments; Coll-1255/6:...
Dates: 1876-2003

Papers of Geoffrey Beale relating to Charlotte Auerbach, 1898-1995

Identifier: Coll-1266/4
Scope and Contents Consists of papers collated by Geoffrey Beale as part of the preparation of his biographical memoir of Charlotte Auerbach for the Royal Society, published in 1995. Contains: Correspondence regarding Beale's research about Auerbach, papers concerning Auerbach's family history, copies of Auerbach's obituaries, letters from colleagues to Beale concerning Auerbach and a copy of the Royal Society memoir itself;Cassette tapes of interview recordings made of Charlotte Auerbach by Geoffrey...
Dates: 1898-1995

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