Skip to content


Fellows Directory

Walter Bodmer

Walter Bodmer

Sir Walter Bodmer FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1974


Walter Bodmer is a geneticist with a wide field of study. Walter has made major contributions to the study of the genetics of human populations, gene mapping and cancer genetics and to our understanding of the human tissue typing system. He was one of the first to suggest the idea of the human genome project.

Early in his career, Walter helped to discover the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system, vital for the success of organ and bone marrow transplants. Walter’s interest in human populations led him to set up a UK population gene bank that could be used as a control group in research. More recently, he has successfully grown bowel cancer cells in the lab in structures similar to those found naturally inside the bowel.

Walter is credited with beginning the movement for the public understanding of science, having chaired the first committee set up to establish standards for communicating science and technology. He was the first Director General of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and was knighted in 1986.

Professional positions

Head of the Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Cancer and Immunogenetics Lab, MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM)
Head of the Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Population genetics
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Cell biology (incl molecular cell biology)
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


Basic cancer research, Cancer genetics, Colorectal cancer, Population genetics


  • Bernal Lecture

    On 'The public understanding of science'.

  • Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture

    For his outstanding achievement in raising the public understanding of science and technology as an issue of the highest importance to individual scientists and engineers and to many bodies that represent them.

  • Royal Medals

    For seminal contributions to population genetics, gene mapping and understanding of familial genetic disease.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.