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Professor Sir Gabriel Horn 1927-2012

Professor Sir Gabriel Horn died on August 2nd 2012, aged 84. Sir Gabriel was Emeritus Professor inf the Department of Zoology and a Fellow of King's College.

He was born in 1927 and attended Handsworth Technical School in Birmingham, but left at 16 to work in his parents' shop. He studied part-time, however, and after service in the RAF he read Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

He came to the University of Cambridge in 1956 and became a Lecturer and then Reader in Anatomy. He was a Fellow of King's College from 1962 to 1974. He then became a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Bristol in 1974. In 1975, while at Bristol, he obtained his ScD degree. He returned to Cambridge in 1977 to become the head of the Department of Zoology, and started a second period as a Fellow at King’s College (1978-92).

He was then Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from 1992 to 1999 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1994 to 1997. He was elected a Life Fellow of King's College after his retirement from Sidney Sussex College.

His research interests focused on the neurophysiological mechanisms of attention, sensory interaction (the mechanisms by which different sensory inputs interact in the brainstem and cerebral cortex) and learning. The main focus of his most recent work was the neural basis of learning and memory, studied through visual imprinting and using electrophysiological, molecular and behavioural techniques. He received many honours for his work. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1986, received their Royal Medal in 2001, and was knighted in 2002 'for services to Neurobiology and to the Advancement of Scientific Research'. He was given an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Birmingham in 1999 and by the University of Bristol in 2003. In addition to these accolades, he has received several other distinctions and awards throughout his career. Most recently, he won the British Neuroscience Association award for Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience 2011.

In addition to his research work, he contributed to many committees and enquiries, notably becoming Chair of the Committee to Review the Origin of BSE in 2001. In 2006, he chaired the Government’s Foresight project entitled ‘Brain science, addiction and drugs’ clearly indicating his expertise in many and varied areas of neurobiology.

He was an active member of Cambridge Neuroscience, attending annual symposia. He also wrote a very interesting account of the history of Cambridge Neuroscience, which can be found here. Click here to watch Professor Sir Gabriel Horn interviewed by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson in 2007. He talks about his desire to study consciousness from an experimental point of view and his intention to set up an electrophysiological laboratory in Cambridge.

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family at this very sad time.

Posted on 06/08/2012

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