Peter Biggs conducted important work on fowl leukosis viruses and Marek's disease. With Jim Payne, Peter was one of the first to establish a genetic basis for the susceptibility of fowls to leukosis and sarcoma viruses. Their work in this area contributed to the development of leukosis-free chicken flocks used for experimental studies and for the production of virus-free vaccines, free of potentially oncogenic adventitious agents.
His other important contributions were in the study of Marek's disease. With colleagues, he clearly established the aetiological role of a herpesvirus in this disease, providing for the first time unequivocal evidence of the oncogenic potential of this group of viruses. He also elucidated several aspects of the pathogenicity and epizootiology of Marek's disease and led a group that was responsible for the development of effective means of controlling this disease by vaccination, producing the first effective vaccine against a neoplastic disease.
He has been awarded honorary degrees from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and the University of Liège, as well as the Wolf Prize in Agriculture.
Professor Peter Biggs CBE FMedSci FRS died on 27 December 2021.
Former Director (retired), Institute for Animal Health
Interest and expertise
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
General microbiology (incl bacteriology and virology), Cellular and humoral immunology, Cellular pathology
Health and human sciences
Veterinary, clinical studies
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Tumour viruses, viral oncogenesis, veterinary viruses and diseases
Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture
On 'Mareks disease, tumours and prevention'.
In the field of agriculture for distinguished contributions to basic science and its successful translation into practice in the fields of animal health and crop protection.