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Lewis Wolpert

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Lewis Wolpert
Wolpert in May 1994
Born(1929-10-19)19 October 1929
Died28 January 2021(2021-01-28) (aged 91)
London, England
EducationBSc, PhD
Alma materUniversity of Witwatersrand
Imperial College London
King's College London
OccupationDevelopmental biologist
Years active1960–2020
Employer(s)University College London (Emeritus Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology)
Organization(s)Fellow of the Royal Society
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences
Known forpositional-value concept in biological development
Notable workMalignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression (1999)
Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief (2006)
ChildrenDaniel Mark Wolpert
AwardsHamburger prize for education – American Soc.Dev.Biol.
Michael Faraday Prize (2000)
Royal Medal (2018)
Scientific career
FieldsDevelopmental biology
Doctoral studentsJim Smith[1][2]

Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS FRSL FMedSci (19 October 1929 – 28 January 2021) was a South African-born British developmental biologist, author, and broadcaster. Wolpert was known for his work on the intracellular positional information that guides cellular development.

Wolpert died at a hospital in London on 28 January 2021 from COVID-19, aged 91.[3]


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  • Wolpert, Lewis; Richards, Alison (1988). A Passion for Science. Oxford, U.K: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854213-5.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (1991). The Triumph of the Embryo. Oxford, UK & New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854243-7.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (1994). The Unnatural Nature of Science. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-92980-2. Retrieved 14 November 2010. Paperback ISBN 978-0-674-92981-4 First published 1992 by Faber & Faber, London.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (1999). Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-87058-4. Retrieved 14 November 2010Free registration facilitates access to introduction & chapter 1. Alternatively, type the title into Google within quotations "like this", and the webpage comes up (how found in the first instance){{cite book}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  • Wolpert, Lewis; Tickle, Cheryll (2011). Principles of development. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-955428-7.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (2006). Six impossible things before breakfast, The evolutionary origins of belief. W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-06449-2.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (2009). How We Live and Why We Die: The secret lives of cells, Norton. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0571239122.
  • Wolpert, Lewis (2011). You're Looking Very Well: The Surprising Nature of Getting Old. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0571250653.


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  1. Weston, K. (2010). "The accidental biologist: an interview with Jim Smith". Disease Models & Mechanisms. 3 (1–2): 11–14. doi:10.1242/dmm.004952. PMID 20075376. S2CID 196585824.
  2. Smith, James Cuthbert (1979). Studies of positional signalling along the antero - posterior axis of the developing chick limb (PhD thesis). University College London (University of London). OCLC 500567020. Archived from the original on 2017-05-10. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  3. Humanists UK mourns Professor Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS (1929-2021)