Memories of Michael: his contribution to EU-LIFE

Memories of Michael: his contribution to EU-LIFE

Memories of Michael: his contribution to EU-LIFE

Three EU-LIFE colleagues, Luis Serrano, first EU-LIFE Chair and Director of CRG, Michela Bertero, a member of the first EU-LIFE team of Chairs and Head of International & Scientific Affairs at CRG and Marta Agostinho, EU-LIFE Coordinator, remember Michael’s influence and enthusiasm for the EU-LIFE alliance of research institutes. This is the third remembrance article in a series that aims to draw together different perspectives from people who knew and worked with Michael.

We met Michael when we started building the EU-LIFE alliance. We founded EU-LIFE with a European vision, to share knowledge and good practice among multiple life science institutes in different European countries and to have a voice in European science policy. Initially, it was challenging to find a partner institute in the UK but once we spoke to Michael, the Babraham Institute joined enthusiastically thanks to his vision and shared values of excellence, cooperation, integrity and openness.

Michael quickly became an ardent supporter of EU-LIFE, encouraging multiple activities and facilitating the building of a strong community, as we are today. He embraced and critically contributed to important EU-LIFE priorities, such as career development for junior researchers, gender equality and open science. Michael always encouraged initiatives such as the EU-LIFE postdoc visiting exchange programme and the promotion of networking among PhD and postdoc communities across our institutes. To give an example, he was excited to represent EU-LIFE in 2018 in an open debate on gender inclusiveness in life sciences, at the well-renown ESOF conference in Toulouse. He also supported critical H2020 projects, namely LIBRA and ORION, bringing EU-LIFE institutes together to tackle gender equality and open science, respectively.

We remember him embracing the Directors´ discussions and challenges with a great sense of humour and optimism. Very recently (in May 2019), the Babraham Institute hosted the EU-LIFE strategy meeting, and we all remember Michael’s enthusiasm and passion in introducing us some members of the Institute, and showing us around the labs, the facilities and the scientifically-vibrant campus.

Above all, Michael shared with us the value of discovery research, strongly believing that discovery research is the main driver for disruptive innovation and profound impact on our society. We will miss Michael deeply, but his inspiration and vision will continue to influence our EU-LIFE community.

Our warm condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.

Luis Serrano, first EU-LIFE Chair, Director of CRG

Michela Bertero, member of the first EU-LIFE team of Chairs, Head of International & Scientific Affairs CRG

Marta Agostinho, EU-LIFE Coordinator


Notes to Editors

Press contact

Dr Louisa Wood, Institute Communications Manager,

Image description

Michael Wakelam (left) and attendees of the EU-LIFE strategy meeting, May 2019. 

Additional/related resources:

News announcement 1 April 2020 - Michael Wakelam 1955 - 2020

Memories of Michael: a colleague’s tribute. Professor Wolf Reik, Head of the Epigenetics research programme, remembers Michael Wakelam. Published 21 April 2020.

Memories of Michael: a mentor, friend and director. Dr Simon Cook, senior group leader in the Signalling research programme, describes joining the Wakelam lab in Glasgow as a PhD student. Published 30 April 2020.

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.