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Jack Leek

Jack Leek, PhD, MIBiol

Dr Jack Leek, Senior Technician in the Division of Molecular and Translational Medicine, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, died on 9th February 2011, after a short illness.  Professor David Bonthron has contributed the following obituary of Dr Leek:

Jack Patrick Leek was born in Bradford on 13th November, 1945, and was educated at Bootle Grammar School and Hanson Boys’ Grammar, Bradford.  After leaving school, he trained as a laboratory technician at Bradford Technical College and Liverpool City Institute of Further Education.

Joining the University of Leeds in 1970, as a technician in the Department of Medicine at Leeds General Infirmary, Jack had more than 40 years’ continuous service with the University, and was due to retire this summer.

Jack’s quiet determination was familiar to his colleagues, and was reflected in his continued career progression and scientific development.  After joining the University, he obtained ONC (1973) and HNC (1978) in Medical Laboratory Sciences and M.I.Biol. (1981).  In 1978, he moved to the Department of Medicine at St James’s University Hospital, where he rose to become Chief Technician.

In 1993, he joined the newly-established Molecular Medicine Unit, working closely for many years with Professor Alex Markham.  From this time, Jack developed a whole new skill set, covering a broad range of emerging methods in molecular genetics and molecular cytogenetics, which he established in the Unit.  He made major contributions to the international reputation that the Molecular Medicine Unit rapidly acquired.  He also began studying on a part-time basis for a PhD degree (which was awarded in 2000).  He became an expert on the mapping of human genes by molecular cytogenetics, and authored more than 40 research publications.

Jack played many roles: as well as providing invaluable technical support to his department, he conducted his own research, supported that of others, taught many how to begin and to succeed in the lab, and helped many more in time of difficulty. Many international visitors recognised how much they owed to him, and kept in touch with Jack long after they left – this led him to visit some interesting and far-flung parts of the world at their invitation.

Jack was universally loved and valued, and one of that rare breed of colleagues about whom it is impossible to remember a harsh word being spoken.  A naturally quiet man, his wry sense of humour would nonetheless often surprise and delight his colleagues.

Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2010.  It is typical of him that he continued to work while sick, until no longer able.  He is irreplaceable, and much missed by many colleagues and friends, both past and present.

The funeral service will be held at 10.20am on Thursday 24 February 2011, at Rawdon Crematorium, Leeds Road, Rawdon, LS19 6JP.

In memory of Dr Leek, the flag will be flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building next Thursday.