Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR DAVID CHILTON PHILLIPS FRS (b.1924)

This record is held by Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections

Details of Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR DAVID CHILTON PHILLIPS FRS (b.1924)
Title: Catalogue of the papers and correspondence of SIR DAVID CHILTON PHILLIPS FRS (b.1924)
Reference: NCUACS 45.1.94
Description:

SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL AND AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. A.1-A.75

 

A.1-A.60 Career, honours and awards

 

A.61-A.68 Shorter personal correspondence

 

A.69-A.75 Miscellaneous biographical material

 

SECTION B DIARIES AND NOTEBOOKS B.1-B.50

 

SECTION C RESEARCH NOTEBOOKS AND NOTES C.1-C.60

 

SECTION D ROYAL INSTITUTION D.1-D.16

 

SECTION E OXFORD E.1-E.173

 

E.1-E.19 Philips's career at Oxford

 

E.20-E.41 Biological and agricultural sciences board

 

E.42-E.53 Interfaculty and university committees

 

E.54-E.138 Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics (LMB)

 

E.139-E.173 Electoral boards and appointments

 

SECTION F PUBLICATIONS F.1-F.112

 

F.1-F.46 Own and collaborative publications

 

F.47-F.108 Editorial and advisory

 

F.109-F.111 Addendum: own and collaborative publications

 

F.112 List of publications

 

SECTION G VISITS, CONFERENCES, LECTURES G.1-G.451

 

SECTION H RADIO, TELEVISION, FILMS H.1-H.42

 

SECTION J UK SOCIETIES, ORGANISATIONS, CONSULTANCIES J.1-J.46

 

SECTION K INTERNATIONAL SOCIETIES, ORGANISATIONS, CONSULTANCIES K.1-K.50

 

SECTION L THE ROYAL SOCIETY L.1-L.62

 

L.1-L.3 Phillips's career at the Royal Society

 

L.4-L.16 Committees and activities

 

L.17-L.20 Publications and editorial

 

L.21-L.30 Visits

 

L.31-L.33A General correspondence

 

L.34-L.38 Organisation of the Fellowship

 

L.39-L.62 Elections, appointments, awards

 

SECTION M SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL/SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH COUNCIL (SRC/SERC) M.1-M.13

 

SECTION N MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC) N.1-N.64

 

N.1 Council correspondence

 

N.2-N.21 Boards and committees

 

N.22-N.47 Sub-committees, review groups, working parties

 

N.48-N.52 Visits to MRC laboratories and units

 

N.53-N.64 Conferences and discussion meetings

 

SECTION O ADVISORY BOARD FOR THE RESEARCH COUNCILS (ABRC) O.1-O.261

 

O.1-O.5 Appointments and personal

 

O.6-O.14 Structure and Membership

 

O.15-O.49 Research councils

 

O.50-O.58 UK scientific and academic Institutions

 

O.59-O.68 UK science policy institutions and pressure groups

 

O.69-O.79 Parliamentary select committees

 

O.80-O.97 Government departments

 

O.98-O.105 Science policy studies

 

O.106-O.120 Reports and working parties

 

O.121-O.123 Serminars and conferences

 

O.124-O.126 Miscellaneous committees and sub-committees

 

O.127-O.141 International relations and collaboration

 

O.142-O.175 Visits and engagements

 

O.176-O.203 ABRC submissions and advice

 

O.204-O.219 1993 White Paper and boundary study

 

O.220-O.234 Memoranda and meetings 1982-93

 

O.235-O.247 General correspondence 1983-93

 

O.248-O.261 Addendum

 

SECTION P CORRESPONDENCE P.1-P.304

 

P.1-P.292 Scientific and general correspondence

 

P.293-P.296 Shorter scientific correspondence

 

P.297-P.304 Unindexed correspondence

 

SECTION R REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS R.1-R.159

 

R.1-R.3 Theses and higher degrees

 

R.4-R.6 University external examining

 

R.7-R.66 University appointments

 

R.67, R.68 Agricultural Research Council/ Agricultural and Food Research Council

 

R.69-R.83 Medical Research Council

 

R.84-R.104 Science Research Council/ Science and Engineering Research Council

 

R.105-R.125 UK foundations and grant-giving institutions

 

R.126-R.152 Overseas foundations and grant-giving Institutions

 

R.153-R.155 Awards, prizes, honours

 

R.156-R.159 Personal

 

The material is presented as shown in the List of Contents. Additional explanatory notes, Information and cross-references are appended where appropriate to the separate sections, sub-sections and individual entries in the body of the catalogue. The following paragraphs are intended only to draw attention to items of particular interest.

 

Section A (Biographical and autobiographical), though not extensive, covers in varying detail the principal stages of Phillips's career from schooldays onward: It includes many offers of appointments not otherwise documented as well as the known public honours he received. It also includes several autobiographical accounts prepared by Phillips at various dates; similar occasional accounts occur elsewhere in the collection and attention is drawn to them in the catalogue entries.

 

Section B (Diaries and notebooks) is of interest for a series of notebooks which constitute a general journal of considerable value in several regards. The books, covering the years 1960-90 (with an unexplained gap from 1976 to 1984), contain Phillips's notes on scientific research projects and progress, Interviews and discussions with colleagues, staff and visitors in the laboratory, salaries, funding and laboratory requirements, aides-memoire on telephone conversations or letters received, drafts for lectures or conference papers, comments on theses or papers sent for comment, notes taken at lectures, seminars or conferences, and in the later years notes of ABRC or Research Council meetings and discussions on science policy.

 

Section C (Research notebooks and notes) provides records, some by collaborators and not always in full detail, for all stages of Phillips's career from his post-doctoral appointment in 1951 at the National Research Laboratories Ottawa. The material is presented by topic. These include the development at the Royal Institution London (with U.W. Arndt) of the semi-automatic and later of the linear diffractometer, and collaborative work with J.C. Kendrew (later Sir John) and his team at Cambridge on the structure of myoglobin. Phillips's most widely known achievement, the structure of lysozyme and its mechanism of action, on which he continued to work for most of his career, is documented here by his detailed records of the co-ordinates. Later projects at Oxford such as the successful analysis of triose phosphate isomerase (TIM) are also documented.

 

However, not all Phillips's research career is fully covered by the surviving material in this collection. His activity as a founder member and later chairman of the Oxford Enzyme Group (OEG) can be found in the collection of the OEG papers held in the Bodleian Library, and a detailed record of all stages of the myoglobin project is contained in the manuscript collection of Sir John Kendrew also held in the Bodleian Library.

 

Section D (The Royal Institution) is relatively short, but contains records not only of the important decade in Phillips's career from his appointment as a Research Fellow in 1956 by W.L. Bragg until his appointment at Oxford in 1966, but also of his continuing involvement with the Institution as Manager, member of Council, lecturer and active participant in its affairs including the award of its Actonian Prize in 1991. For the early period the material is mainly correspondence, on the equipment and research projects referred to in relation to Section C, and on the events surrounding the successful lysozyme analysis. Several of Phillips's long-term colleagues at the Institution accompanied him to Oxford, in particular C.C.F. Blake, A.C.T. North and L.N. Johnson.

 

The Director of the Royal Institution throughout Phillips's decade there was W.L. Bragg (Sir Lawrence Bragg). Their mutual affectionate regard can be seen both in this Section and passim elsewhere in the collection.

 

Section E (Oxford) shows Phillips moving to a wider stage. As the University's first Professor of Molecular Biophysics from 1966 he had the responsibility of setting up and running a new department and of establishing the subject as an integral part of Oxford science. There were difficulties to be overcome both before and after the move from London, notably over the status and salaries of the team-members hitherto paid by the Medical Research Council, delays over the promised new Zoology Department building in which the Laboratory was to be housed, and the assurance of continued funding from MRC and other outside bodies for powerful computing capacity and for specific research projects. The Chair also carried with it the obligation to participate in the general administation of the University through faculty and inter-faculty boards, the organisation of syllabuses, teaching and advanced study, appointments and elections to posts in the Laboratory and in the University at large. All these activites are well documented. Phillips's success can be gauged in part from the very large number of requests to work, visit, conduct collaborative projects or consult with him and his colleagues. Many of the documents relating to these matters bear annotations, comments or information from the Laboratory team, since Phillips continued there the practice he had begun on a more limited scale at the Royal Institution of circulating all but personal communications to senior laboratory members, to keep them fully informed of events and to solicit their advice or views.

 

Although Phillips's Chair carried with it a Fellowship of Corpus Christi College, he did not play a particularly active part in college life, choosing rather to give his time and energy to the scientific world at Oxford and outside.

 

Section F (Publications) includes some drafts and material for Phillips's own scientific papers, though fewer than might be expected. During his most active research period he was a reluctant writer and rarely kept documentation once a paper was published. His major papers on lysozyme are, however, well documented, especially his 1966 article in Scientific American which was illustrated by hand-drawn diagrams specially commissioned from the artist Irving Geis. This was a rare solution to the recurring problem of presenting three-dimensional results on the printed page, which in the 1960s and 1970s usually Involved red-green diagrams and filter spectacles for the reader.

 

Also of interest is the extensive material assembled by Phillips for his Memoir of W.L. Bragg written for the Royal Society and published in 1979.

 

Phillips found time to act as referee or editorial consultant to many publishing houses though he was obliged to decline very many requests to undertake such work. Specialist journals with which he had long connections as contributor, editor or consultant include Acta Crystallographica, Biochemistry, EMBO Journal and Journal of Molecular Biology. The principal publishing houses with which he was involved were IRL Press, Medical and Technical Publishing Company and Oxford University Press. His editorial and advisory work for the Royal Society is documented in Section L.

 

Section G (Conferences, visits, lectures) is the most extensive in the collection, reflecting Phillips's close involvement in the diffusion of scientific information and his success therein. The time-span covered is 1957-93, including an addendum for items received at a late date. The introduction to Section G describes in more detail the content of the material and its interest as witness to the evolution of Phillips's research, the range of audience addressed, and his gifts as a refreshing speaker on technical and, later, science policy topics.

 

Section H (Radio, television, films) is very short and not a full record of Phillips's activity in these fields. It does, however, document his work for the Open University, Including a prize-winning film on lysozyme.

 

Section J (UK societies, organisations, consultancies) records, in varying detail, Phillips's involvement with over a score of such organisations. Attention is drawn in particular to the material on the British Crystallographic Association which includes many of the founding and fund-raising early papers of the Association, the CIBA Foundation which was one of Phillips's major commitments (he served on the Council of the Foundation for sixteen years), and Celltech, an enterprise set up to exploit discoveries in biotechnology.

 

Section K (International societies, organisations, consultancies), while containing similar material concerning overseas organisations, includes a higher proportion of work on advisory boards or scientific councils of laboratories and institutions relating to their research programmes. Examples are the Basle University Biozentrum, the Committee for the European Development of Science and Technology (CODEST), the Harvard-Monsanto Research Agreement (an experiment in collaborative research between industry and academia), the 'Single-crystal intensity measurement programme' and other affairs of the International Union of Crystallography, the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB), the Max-Planck institute of Biochemistry Scientific Council, and the Weizmann Institute Israel.

 

Section L (The Royal Society) provides useful documentation of Phillips's long association with the Society, notably his service as Biological Secretary 1976-83. It includes work on various committees, sometimes as chairman, overseas visits and delegations, editorial and advisory work for the Society's publications, material on the organisation of the Fellowship and its Sectional committees, elections and awards, and general correspondence of the Society's affairs.

 

Section M (Science Research Council) is short, relating mainly to the Cray Computer and the Daresbury Laboratory.

 

Section N (Medical Research Council) is an extensive record of Phillips's service as a Council member 1974-78 and a Royal Society 'Attending Assessor' 1976-83. The introduction to the Section outlines more fully his wide-ranging work for the Council as Chairman of the Cell Board and member of many committees, working parties and delegations such as those set up consider the Cambridge Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the European Laboratory of Molecular Biology (EMBL) and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).

 

Section O (Advisory Board for the Research Councils) (ABRC) records Phillips's career as government adviser, from his appointment as part-time Chairman of ABRC in January 1983 through his appointment as full-time Chairman from April 1990 (when he resigned his Oxford Chair) to the period following the General Election of May 1992. Immediately after the election, changes were announced in government organisation for education and science which meant that responsibility for science and technology was transferred from the Department of Education and Science (to whose Secretaries of State Phillips had hitherto addressed the ABRC's advice) to the newly-created Office of Science and Technology under the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Phillips's extended period of service as ABRC Chairman ended in September 1993, but he remained as acting Director-General of the Research Councils until December 1993.

 

Section P (Correspondence) is extensive. Always conducted in easy and friendly terms, it is primarily concerned with projects in protein research. It includes useful exchanges with colleagues on myoglobin and lysozyme. There is also further material relating to W.L. Bragg.

 

Section R (References and recommendations) is also extensive and demonstrates the international respect in which Phillips was held by the many requests for advice or evaluation on appointments from universities and institutions worldwide. There is also a very large number of research grant assessments.

 

Conditions of restricted access apply to this and to other Sections of the collection.Visits

 

L.31-L.33A General correspondence

 

L.34-L.38 Organisation of the Fellowhip

 

L.39-L.62 Elections, appointments, awards

 

SECTION M SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL/SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH COUNCIL (SRC/SERC) M.1-M.13

 

SECTION N MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC) N.1-N.64

 

N.1 Council correspondence

 

N.2-N.21 Boards and committees

 

N.22-N.47 Sub-committees, review groups, working parties

 

N.48-N.52 Visits to MRC laboratories and units

 

N.53-N.64 Conferences and discussion meetings

 

SECTION O ADVISORY BOARD FOR THE RESEARCH COUNCILS (ABRC) O.1-O.261

 

O.1-O.5 Appointments and personal

 

O.6-O.14 Structure and Membership

 

O.15-O.49 Research councils

 

O.50-O.58 UK scientific and academic Institutions

 

O.59-O.68 UK science policy institutions and pressure groups

 

O.69-O.79 Parliamentary select committees

 

O.80-O.97 Government departments

 

O.98-O.105 Science policy studies

 

O.106-O.120 Reports and working parties

 

O.121-O.123 Serminars and conferences

 

O.124-O.126 Miscellaneous committees and sub-committees

 

O.127-O.141 International relations and collaboration

 

O.142-O.175 Visits and engagements

 

O.176-O.203 ABRC submissions and advice

 

O.204-O.219 1993 White Paper and boundary study

 

O.220-O.234 Memoranda and meetings 1982-93

 

O.235-O.247 General correspondence 1983-93

 

O.248-O.261 Addendum

 

SECTION P CORRESPONDENCE P.1-P.304

 

P.1-P.292 Scientific and general correspondence

 

P.293-P.296 Shorter scientific correspondence

 

P.297-P.304 Unindexed correspondence

 

SECTION R REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS R.1-R.159

 

R.1-R.3 Theses and higher degrees

 

R.4-R.6 University external examining

 

R.7-R.66 University appointments

 

R.67, R.68 Agricultural Research Council/ Agricultural and Food Research Council

 

R.69-R.83 Medical Research Council

 

R.84-R.104 Science Research Council/ Science and Engineering Research Council

 

R.105-R.125 UK foundations and grant-giving institutions

 

R.126-R.152 Overseas foundations and grant-giving Institutions

 

R.153-R.155 Awards, prizes, honours

 

R.156-R.159 Personal

 

The material is presented as shown in the List of Contents. Additional explanatory notes, Information and cross-references are appended where appropriate to the separate sections, sub-sections and individual entries in the body of the catalogue. The following paragraphs are intended only to draw attention to items of particular interest.

 

Section A (Biographical and autobiographical), though not extensive, covers in varying detail the principal stages of Phillips's career from schooldays onward: It includes many offers of appointments not otherwise documented as well as the known public honours he received. It also includes several autobiographical accounts prepared by Phillips at various dates; similar occasional accounts occur elsewhere in the collection and attention is drawn to them in the catalogue entries.

 

Section B (Diaries and notebooks) is of interest for a series of notebooks which constitute a general journal of considerable value in several regards. The books, covering the years 1960-90 (with an unexplained gap from 1976 to 1984), contain Phillips's notes on scientific research projects and progress, Interviews and discussions with colleagues, staff and visitors in the laboratory, salaries, funding and laboratory requirements, aides-memoire on telephone conversations or letters received, drafts for lectures or conference papers, comments on theses or papers sent for comment, notes taken at lectures, seminars or conferences, and in the later years notes of ABRC or Research Council meetings and discussions on science policy.

 

Section C (Research notebooks and notes) provides records, some by collaborators and not always in full detail, for all stages of Phillips's career from his post-doctoral appointment in 1951 at the National Research Laboratories Ottawa. The material is presented by topic. These include the development at the Royal Institution London (with U.W. Arndt) of the semi-automatic and later of the linear diffractometer, and collaborative work with J.C. Kendrew (later Sir John) and his team at Cambridge on the structure of myoglobin. Phillips's most widely known achievement, the structure of lysozyme and its mechanism of action, on which he continued to work for most of his career, is documented here by his detailed records of the co-ordinates. Later projects at Oxford such as the successful analysis of triose phosphate isomerase (TIM) are also documented.

 

However, not all Phillips's research career is fully covered by the surviving material in this collection. His activity as a founder member and later chairman of the Oxford Enzyme Group (OEG) can be found in the collection of the OEG papers held in the Bodleian Library, and a detailed record of all stages of the myoglobin project is contained in the manuscript collection of Sir John Kendrew also held in the Bodleian Library.

 

Section D (The Royal Institution) is relatively short, but contains records not only of the important decade in Phillips's career from his appointment as a Research Fellow in 1956 by W.L. Bragg until his appointment at Oxford in 1966, but also of his continuing involvement with the Institution as Manager, member of Council, lecturer and active participant in its affairs including the award of its Actonian Prize in 1991. For the early period the material is mainly correspondence, on the equipment and research projects referred to in relation to Section C, and on the events surrounding the successful lysozyme analysis. Several of Phillips's long-term colleagues at the Institution accompanied him to Oxford, in particular C.C.F. Blake, A.C.T. North and L.N. Johnson.

 

The Director of the Royal Institution throughout Phillips's decade there was W.L. Bragg (Sir Lawrence Bragg). Their mutual affectionate regard can be seen both in this Section and passim elsewhere in the collection.

 

Section E (Oxford) shows Phillips moving to a wider stage. As the University's first Professor of Molecular Biophysics from 1966 he had the responsibility of setting up and running a new department and of establishing the subject as an integral part of Oxford science. There were difficulties to be overcome both before and after the move from London, notably over the status and salaries of the team-members hitherto paid by the Medical Research Council, delays over the promised new Zoology Department building in which the Laboratory was to be housed, and the assurance of continued funding from MRC and other outside bodies for powerful computing capacity and for specific research projects. The Chair also carried with it the obligation to participate in the general administation of the University through faculty and inter-faculty boards, the organisation of syllabuses, teaching and advanced study, appointments and elections to posts in the Laboratory and in the University at large. All these activites are well documented. Phillips's success can be gauged in part from the very large number of requests to work, visit, conduct collaborative projects or consult with him and his colleagues. Many of the documents relating to these matters bear annotations, comments or information from the Laboratory team, since Phillips continued there the practice he had begun on a more limited scale at the Royal Institution of circulating all but personal communications to senior laboratory members, to keep them fully informed of events and to solicit their advice or views.

 

Although Phillips's Chair carried with it a Fellowship of Corpus Christi College, he did not play a particularly active part in college life, choosing rather to give his time and energy to the scientific world at Oxford and outside.

 

Section F (Publications) includes some drafts and material for Phillips's own scientific papers, though fewer than might be expected. During his most active research period he was a reluctant writer and rarely kept documentation once a paper was published. His major papers on lysozyme are, however, well documented, especially his 1966 article in Scientific American which was illustrated by hand-drawn diagrams specially commissioned from the artist Irving Geis. This was a rare solution to the recurring problem of presenting three-dimensional results on the printed page, which in the 1960s and 1970s usually Involved red-green diagrams and filter spectacles for the reader.

 

Also of interest is the extensive material assembled by Phillips for his Memoir of W.L. Bragg written for the Royal Society and published in 1979.

 

Phillips found time to act as referee or editorial consultant to many publishing houses though he was obliged to decline very many requests to undertake such work. Specialist journals with which he had long connections as contributor, editor or consultant include Acta Crystallographica, Biochemistry, EMBO Journal and Journal of Molecular Biology. The principal publishing houses with which he was involved were IRL Press, Medical and Technical Publishing Company and Oxford University Press. His editorial and advisory work for the Royal Society is documented in Section L.

 

Section G (Conferences, visits, lectures) is the most extensive in the collection, reflecting Phillips's close involvement in the diffusion of scientific information and his success therein. The time-span covered is 1957-93, including an addendum for items received at a late date. The introduction to Section G describes in more detail the content of the material and its interest as witness to the evolution of Phillips's research, the range of audience addressed, and his gifts as a refreshing speaker on technical and, later, science policy topics.

 

Section H (Radio, television, films) is very short and not a full record of Phillips's activity in these fields. It does, however, document his work for the Open University, Including a prize-winning film on lysozyme.

 

Section J (UK societies, organisations, consultancies) records, in varying detail, Phillips's involvement with over a score of such organisations. Attention is drawn in particular to the material on the British Crystallographic Association which includes many of the founding and fund-raising early papers of the Association, the CIBA Foundation which was one of Phillips's major commitments (he served on the Council of the Foundation for sixteen years), and Celltech, an enterprise set up to exploit discoveries in biotechnology.

 

Section K (International societies, organisations, consultancies), while containing similar material concerning overseas organisations, includes a higher proportion of work on advisory boards or scientific councils of laboratories and institutions relating to their research programmes. Examples are the Basle University Biozentrum, the Committee for the European Development of Science and Technology (CODEST), the Harvard-Monsanto Research Agreement (an experiment in collaborative research between industry and academia), the 'Single-crystal intensity measurement programme' and other affairs of the International Union of Crystallography, the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB), the Max-Planck institute of Biochemistry Scientific Council, and the Weizmann Institute Israel.

 

Section L (The Royal Society) provides useful documentation of Phillips's long association with the Society, notably his service as Biological Secretary 1976-83. It includes work on various committees, sometimes as chairman, overseas visits and delegations, editorial and advisory work for the Society's publications, material on the organisation of the Fellowship and its Sectional committees, elections and awards, and general correspondence of the Society's affairs.

 

Section M (Science Research Council) is short, relating mainly to the Cray Computer and the Daresbury Laboratory.

 

Section N (Medical Research Council) is an extensive record of Phillips's service as a Council member 1974-78 and a Royal Society 'Attending Assessor' 1976-83. The introduction to the Section outlines more fully his wide-ranging work for the Council as Chairman of the Cell Board and member of many committees, working parties and delegations such as those set up consider the Cambridge Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the European Laboratory of Molecular Biology (EMBL) and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).

 

Section O (Advisory Board for the Research Councils) (ABRC) records Phillips's career as government adviser, from his appointment as part-time Chairman of ABRC in January 1983 through his appointment as full-time Chairman from April 1990 (when he resigned his Oxford Chair) to the period following the General Election of May 1992. Immediately after the election, changes were announced in government organisation for education and science which meant that responsibility for science and technology was transferred from the Department of Education and Science (to whose Secretaries of State Phillips had hitherto addressed the ABRC's advice) to the newly-created Office of Science and Technology under the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Phillips's extended period of service as ABRC Chairman ended in September 1993, but he remained as acting Director-General of the Research Councils until December 1993.

 

Section P (Correspondence) is extensive. Always conducted in easy and friendly terms, it is primarily concerned with projects in protein research. It includes useful exchanges with colleagues on myoglobin and lysozyme. There is also further material relating to W.L. Bragg.

 

Section R (References and recommendations) is also extensive and demonstrates the international respect in which Phillips was held by the many requests for advice or evaluation on appointments from universities and institutions worldwide. There is also a very large number of research grant assessments.

 

Conditions of restricted access apply to this and to other Sections of the collection.

Date: 1935 - 1994
Held by: Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Extent: 288 boxes
Administrative History:

Sir David has kindly contributed the following autobiographical sketch. The original is included at A.74.

 

Autobiographical sketch, February 1994.

 

I was born on 7 March 1924 in Ellesmere, Shropshire, a small country town on the border between England and Wales. My father, Charles Harry Phillips, was a Master Tailor and a Methodist local preacher. My mother, Edith Harriet Phillips, was the daughter of Samuel Finney, one-time Secretary of the Midland Miners' Federation and Member of Parliament 1916-22: she was a London-trained midwife, the organist at Ellesmere Methodist Church and long a member of the Ellesmere Urban District Council. My unusual middle name is the maiden surname of my mother's great grandmother and it is a reminder of the family myth that we are related in some way to the Pilgrim Father, James Chilton.

 

A key influence on my development came from my father, who was a very academically-inclined, thoughtful person who attempted to join the Wesleyan Methodist Ministry but failed, he always said, because his written sermon was not good enough. His extempore sermons, which he constructed in his head while he was sewing, were certainly powerful enough and I have sometimes wondered whether this background affected my own preference for speaking from rudimentary notes, or none at all.

 

But the more formal academic influence came from my mother's side of the family. Her father was also a Methodist local preacher, this time Primitive Methodist, who taught himself New Testament Greek and his youngest daughter, my aunt Kathleen, went to Manchester University to read English. She married D.A.R. Clark, an engineering graduate of Manchester Tech (UMIST as it now is) who became a Technical College teacher, rising to be Principal of Middlesborough and then Nottingham Technical Colleges.

 

These members of the family were important influences but even more important were my mother's cousins, J.F. and A.H. Bagnall. These were the sons of my grandmother's brother Joe, who worked as a Post Office clerk in Manchester and was again a Primitive Methodist local preacher. Jack and Herbert both went to Manchester Grammar School. Jack went on to read engineering at Manchester Tech while Herbert won a scholarship at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, read Greats and ended as classics master at Exeter School. Of the two Jack was the Influential figure. He went to work in India in the late twenties and used to come home on leave every three years. These were among the most memorable events in my childhood. This larger-than-life figure would descend on Ellesmere in a large car and waft us about the countryside exuding a great air of confidence and full of stories about the hardly dreamed of world out there. It was he, I believe, who instilled in me the thought that anything was possible.

 

The Bagnalls seemed the dominant family in my early life. In addition to my grandmother, Mary Ellen, and her brother Joe there were three other brothers, Ted, Sam and Will, all local preachers, who had escaped from Ellesmere and lived respectively, when I first remember them, in Blandford Forum, Birmingham and Stroud. Ted and Will were both Liberal Party election agents and Sam worked, I believe, for the Shropshire Union Canal Company. His only son, Howard, read chemistry at Birmingham University and became City Analyst of Birmingham - another role model, though not as charismatic as his cousin Jack.

 

My formal education was at the Church of England infants and elementary schools in Ellesmere and at the High School for Boys at Oswestry, some eight miles away on the Cambrian Railway. In 1942 I took Higher School Certificate in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, with subsidiary French and was awarded a State Bursary to study Physics, Mathematics and Radio Communications at University College, Cardiff, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Wales, where I took a war-time degree in June 1944. I then joined the Royal Navy for training as a Radar Officer, being posted to H.M.S. Illustrious in the Spring of 1945.

 

After demobilisation in February 1947, I returned to Cardiff where I was awarded First-Class Honours in Physics in 1948 and began research in X-ray crystallography under the supervision of A.J.C.Wilson. As a graduate student I analysed the structures of ephedrine and one of the polymorphic forms of acridine and I played a part in developing the statistical tests for crystal symmetry that were devised in this period out of Wilson's work on the probability distribution of X-ray intensities.

 

After taking my PhD in 1951, I joined the National Research Laboratories, Ottawa, Canada, as a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Crystallography Laboratory led by W.H. Barnes. First as a Post-doctoral Fellow (1951-53) and then as a member of the Research Staff (1953-55), I continued studies of the three-dimensional structures of relatively small molecules, extending the analyses to involve the use of three-dimensional data, developing the method of photographic data collection and introducing the use in Ottawa of digital computers - in collaboration with F.R. Ahmed, whom I helped to recruit.

 

In 1955, on the suggestion of Dorothy Hodgkin, I was invited by W.L. Bragg to join the Research Staff of the Royal Institution, London, where Bragg was building up a team to work on protein crystals. On leaving Cambridge in 1954, Bragg had hoped to attract members of the Medical Research Council Research Unit at the Cavendish Laboratory (M.F. Perutz and J.C. Kendrew) to move to the Royal Institution with him, but they preferred to remain in Cambridge where their studies of haemoglobin and myoglobin had begun to develop well. They agreed to help Bragg, however, by collaborating with his new team in London. Consequently, on moving to the Royal Institution, I began to collaborate with J.C. Kendrew in his studies of myoglobin while at the same time collaborating with U.W. Arndt on the development of X-ray diffractometers. I used a semi-automatic four-circle diffractometer to measure some of the X-ray data that were used in the low-resolution analysis of the structure of sperm-whale myoglobin that was completed in 1958, and then went on to devise (with Arndt) an automatic diffractometer that incorporated an analogue computer - the Linear Diffractometer - while, at the same time, collaborating with Kendrew in extending the myoglobin analysis to high resolution. In this stage of the myoglobin work, the crystals were prepared at the Royal Institution (by V.C. Shore) and they were photographed partly in London and partly in Cambridge. The photographs were densitometered in the two centres and the final sets of data were assembled in Cambridge. The 2Å-resolution map of myoglobin - the first protein structure to be determined - was calculated in the autumn of 1959 and published in 1960.

 

The Linear Diffractometer was developed commercially by Hilger & Watts Ltd and was used in a number of subsequent crystallographic studies: C.C.F. Blake and I used the laboratory prototype, constructed by T.H. Faulkner in the Royal Institution workshop, to collect data to 1.4Å resolution for sperm-whale myoglobin. These data were used in a preliminary refinement of the structure at Cambridge in the period 1962-64, though the problem at this stage was beyond the power of current computers.

 

It was in this period, in 1960, that I married Diana Kathleen Hutchinson, who was Bragg's secretary, and we had our only child Sarah Anne, born in 1962.

 

In 1960, Roberto Poljak came to the Royal Institution as a post-doctoral worker and suggested that work on hen egg-white lysozyme might be successful-a proposal based upon his preliminary search for suitable heavy-atom derivatives at MIT under the guidance of Howard Dintzis, a myoglobin veteran. At this stage, I turned my attention to lysozyme and - with Bragg's encouragement - focused the greater part of the Royal Institution effort on the determination of its structure. In 1962 a promising low-resolution (6A) map of the enzyme was obtained - whereupon Poljak left the Royal Institution to work on genetics at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. At the Royal Institution, in collaboration particularly with A.C.T. North, C.C.F. Blake and V.R. Sarma, I concentrated on extending the analysis to high (2A) resolution and, at the same time, I initiated crystallographic studies of complexes between the enzyme and competitive inhibitors related to its substrate. These studies were carried out in collaboration with my research student, Louise N. Johnson.

 

By the use of the Linear Diffractometer, now fitted with three detectors, and an in-house Elliott 803 computer provided by the Medical Research Council, these studies led to the calculation of a readily-interpretable electron-density map of the enzyme early in 1965 and the proposal of its mechanism of action about a year later.

 

During this period of excitement arrangements were also being made for Bragg's retirement aged 75 and, as the result of proposals by Dorothy Hodgkin, J.W.S. Pringle and H.A. Krebs, I was offered a Professorship of Molecular Biophysics at Oxford. With the active support of the Medical Research Council, led by Sir H. Himsworth, I was able to take with me the greater part of the research group at the Royal Institution, with lecturerships for North and Blake, and to set up a new Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics. The laboratory was associated with the Department of Zoology, headed by Pringle, and plans were agreed to house it in the new Zoology building that was then being designed.

 

We moved to Oxford in September 1966, being housed initially in the Old Physiology Building. In addition to the group from the Royal Institution I also recruited to University Lecturerships Drs A. Miller and R.E. Offord from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Miller worked on fibrous proteins and muscle while Offord was a protein chemist so that, with North and Blake providing single-crystal expertise and with backgrounds, respectively, in physics and chemistry, we formed a reasonably well-balanced group to help extend studies of protein structure and function in Oxford. Louise Johnson rejoined us as a Departmental Demonstrator in 1967, after a post-doctoral year at Yale.

 

In Oxford, I envisaged the Laboratory as a group of independent but closely interacting research teams led by the University Lecturers and myself. In particular, I attached great importance to having a lively protein chemistry group within the laboratory to interact with the structure analysts at all stages of their work from the identification of problems for research to the consideration of results and how best they might be developed in a biological context. Three of the four original University lecturers (North, Offord and Miller) left over the years and were replaced by L.N. Johnson, A.R. Rees and D.I. Stuart, of whom Rees also left for a Professorship elsewhere towards the end of my period in Oxford.

 

Studies of lysozyme were continued, partly to develop new methods, but a major part of the effort, especially in the early years, was aimed at at detailed understanding of the enzymes in the glycolytic pathway. My part in this was the determination of the structure of triose-phosphate Isomerase together with substrate and inhibitor binding studies that revealed the structural features underlying the catalytic mechanism. This research programme also involved scientists in other Departments in Oxford who collaborated as members of the Oxford Enzyme Group of which I was one of the founders. The group was chaired initially by Sir Rex Richards and, under his leadership, concentrated on the development of NMR spectroscopy as applied to biological problems in parallel with the continuing development of X-ray crystallography - especially in the analysis of protein mobility. I became Chairman of the Group in 1984.

 

Also in collaboration with members of the Enzyme Group, and encouraged by Rodney Porter and Edward Abraham, in the 1980s I concentrated more on studies of immunoglobulins and B-lactamases and, through discussions with F. Brown, I stimulated David Stuart's successful analysis of the structure of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus.

 

In 1974 I was appointed a member of the Medical Research Council and the founder Chairman of the Cell Biology & Disorders Board, one of the subsidiary Boards that was set up in a general reorganisation of the Council's operating structure in that year. I served as Board Chairman until 1976, during which time the most significant events were, probably, the continuing discussions with the Departments of Health (of England and Scotland) regarding the transfer of funds from the MRC to the Departments following the Rothschild Report of 1972, and the review of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the time of M.F. Perutz's formal retirement. This review led to the Phillips Report which proposed some re-balancing of the programme of work at LMB but successfully headed off those who were then criticising what they saw as the Council's over emphasis on Molecular Biology. I continued as a member of the MRC until 1978 and was subsequently the Royal Society assessor on the Council until 1983.

 

In 1976 I was elected Biological Secretary and vice-president of the Royal Society and served in those capacities until 1983. During this time I played a part in abolishing the Society's longstanding small-grants scheme and replacing it with a scheme for the support of University Research Fellows which was designed to ensure the long-term support of highly-talented young scientists in advance of their obtaining academic appointments. Another activity was the preparation of evidence for Parliamentary Select Committees on a variety of subjects one of which, on the provision of scientific advice to government, may have had an influence on my next appointment. In this report the Society criticised the Advisory Board for the Research Councils and recommended that the Board should be reconstituted with a part-time chairman able to give two days a week to the task.

 

In January 1983 I was appointed Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils (ABRC) on the terms proposed by the Royal Society report, for a four-year term of office. The appointment also carried with it ex-officio membership of the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development (ACARD) and, subsequently, of its successor body the Advisory Council on Science & Technology (ACOST). This continued until mid-1993. I was also involved from time to time in the discussions of Official Committees, whose duties are to prepare papers for meetings of Cabinet Committees.

 

At this time, the ABRC was responsible for advising the Secretary of State for Education and Science on the size of the science budget, which was determined annually as a part of the Public Expenditure round, and how the funds that were made available should be distributed among the five Research Councils, the Royal Society, the Fellowship of Engineering and the Natural History Museum. In addition, the Board conducted or commissioned studies on various aspects of science policy and the state of the science base that were designed to help in the formulation of sound advice.

 

For example, during my first term of office the Board published studies of 'Future Facilities for Advanced Research Computing'; 'High Energy Particle Physics in the United Kingdom'; the 'Evaluation of national performance in basic research'; 'Private Sector Funding of Scientific Research'; an 'International Comparison of Government Funding of Academic and Academically Related Research'; and 'Contract Researchers in Universities'. All of these promoted useful debate on topics that remained important throughout my chairmanship.

 

In 1986 I agreed to serve as chairman for a second four year term and, apart from the regular business of the Board in relation to the size and distribution of the Science Budget, this period was dominated by the preparation and publication of two reports. The first of these, entitled 'A Strategy for the Science Base' (1987) addressed fundamental issues in the organisation of university research and provoked a great deal of debate. In particular, the proposition that some universities should expect to be engaged in substantial research activity across the range of fields, while others were engaged in substantial world class research in particular fields and a third group were engaged in the scholarship and research necessary to support and develop teaching, was greeted with outrage. Nevertheless, under the influence of the Research Selectivity Exercise, initiated by the University Grants Committee (UGC) in 1985 and repeated twice since then by the University Funding Council (UFC), together with the abolition of the binary line, which admitted former Polytechnics to University status, a differentiation of universities remarkably like that proposed by the ABRC has emerged. Another major recommendation of the report, that the allocation of responsibilities between Research Councils and Funding Councils within the dual support of university research should be shifted towards the Research Councils, has been accepted by government and implemented; while a further proposal, that interdisciplinary research should be promoted by the establishment of interdisciplinary research centres (IRCs), has also been implemented to a certain extent. Numbers of the other proposals, for example that the Research Councils should develop more explicit policies for the management of research manpower in universities, re-emerged in the White Paper of 1993.

 

The second major report in this period arose from concern about the way in which support for biology was distributed across the Research Councils. Under the chairmanship of Mr J.R.S. Morris, a study group appointed to address this problem produced a wide-ranging report that proposed a radical reform of the Research Council system. They proposed that a single Research Council should be set up with operating divisions that would cover the responsibilities of the existing Research Councils distributed rather differently so that, for example, the responsibility for nonmedical biology would be concentrated in a single division. According to these proposals, the ABRC was to be replaced by the Council of the single research council with a part-time non-executive chairman and a full-time chief executive.

 

In the autumn of 1989, the ABRC discussed this report and decided not to recommend its acceptance to ministers. However, they set up a small working party, comprising the heads of the Research Councils and two independent members of the Board under my chairmanship, to propose more modest changes to the existing system. Out of this process came proposals that the ABRC should be reconstituted under a full-time chairman and with a slimmed-down membership comprising the executive heads of the five Research Councils, six independent - or non-executive - members drawn from industry and academe, and two assessors - the Chief Scientific Advisor to the government and the Deputy Secretary with responsibility for the science base in the Department of Education & Science. Specifically, the Chief Scientists from other government departments were to be removed from membership though they were to be guaranteed access to the Board for discussion of issues that particularly affected their departments.

 

These proposals were accepted by government and the Board was reconstituted from 1 April 1990. I accepted an invitation to be the first full-time chairman for a three-year period.

 

This reorganisation led to my resignation from my professorship in Oxford, a year earlier than I had expected, and my wife and I moved to London in July 1990. Meanwhile, the University had formally considered the future need for a Professorship of Molecular Biophysics and had agreed that the post should continue. Thanks to the generosity of Sir Edward Abraham, the Professorship was supported by an endowment and, at Sir Edward's suggestion, it was named the David Phillips Professorship of Molecular Biophysics. Shortly after my departure from Oxford, Dr Louise N. Johnson was appointed to the Chair.

 

After the reconstitution of the ABRC the major benefits arose from changes in procedure that led the heads of Research Councils to play a fuller part in the Board's business and underlined more clearly than before the responsibilities of the Research Councils themselves to support the work of highest priority in their areas of interest instead of looking to government to provide extra resources to cover new scientific opportunities of high priority. This regime continued through the Public Expenditure rounds of 1990 and 1991 alongside a continuing programme of studies, now organised under the aegis of sub-committees of the Board. These included sub-committees of Manpower, Biotechnology, Super-computing and Science Policy, all of which were supported by members of the ABRC Secretariat and generated important reports and discussion papers. In addition, an Inter-Agency Committee on Global Environmental Change (IACGEC) was set up under my chairmanship to co-ordinate the thinking of funding agencies, including the Research Councils, the Met Office, the British National Space Centre, and other government departments - who were represented by the Department of the Environment - on this important and politically prominent issue.

 

After the General Election of April 1992, the Prime Minister unexpectedly announced a reorganisation of the support for science and technology within government. Responsibility for the Science Budget - but not the Funding Council support for University research - was transferred from the DES to a new Office of Science & Technology within the Office of Public Service & Science under the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Mr William Waldegrave. The head of the OST was the Chief Science Advisor, Professor W.D.P. Stewart.

 

Under these new arrangements, the Board continued to operate essentially as before but now submitting its advice on the Science Budget to the Chancellor of the Duchy. Almost immediately, however, the Chancellor announced his intention of publishing a White Paper on Science & Technology in 1993 and the Board spent most of the summer and autumn of 1992 preparing its advice on the nature of this White Paper. This drew quite heavily on the 1987 Strategy Advice, the debates of 1989, which had led to the reconstitution of the Board, and the experience of the reconstituted Board. It was submitted on 30 October 1992 and proposed a revision of the Research Council system closely similar to that proposed in the Morris report.

 

At about this time, in view of the perceived need to improve co-ordination between the Funding Council and Research Council components of the science base, I was appointed a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and an observer on the Welsh Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW). These developments took place partly as a result of ABRC initiatives in holding meetings with Funding Council officials in Edinburgh and in Cardiff.

 

ACOST, of which I was also a member, produced advice in parallel with that of the ABRC with which the ABRC did not agree. It envisaged, for example, a separate Research Council for the advancement of scientific knowledge alongside Councils for mission orientated research. The two sets of advice were presented by the chairman of ACOST and myself to a meeting of OST ministers and senior staff on 3 November 1992 and this was the beginning of a long process of debate and drafting within the OST and government generally that led, on 26 May 1993, to the publication of the White Paper.

 

Recognising that the functions of the ABRC would have to continue until any changes announced in the White Paper could be put into effect, Mr Waldegrave asked me first to extend my chairmanship until 30 September 1993 and then until 31 December 1993 at which time, under the terms of the White Paper, the ABRC was to be abolished and its chairman replaced by a Director General of Research Councils.

 

During the period from the publication of the White Paper to the end of the year, I played the part of Acting DGRC and, in particular, conducted an urgent study of the reallocation of resources to the new Research Councils, whose boundaries and missions were closely defined in the White Paper. My advice was accepted by the Chancellor at the end of July and I spent the remainder of the year helping to implement further White Paper decisions and playing a part in the appointment of non-executive chairman and chief executives for the new Research Councils. I retired on 31 December 1993 and Sir John Cadogan took over as DGRC.

 

In retirement, I remain a non-executive director of Celltech, a position I have occupied since 1982; a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation (first appointed in 1988); an editor of the Journal Biochemistry; a member of the Davy-Faraday Laboratory Committee of the Royal Institution; and non-executive chairman of Finsbury Communications, the company founded by my son-in-law, Dr Paul Matthewson. Furthermore, I have agreed to be a Governor of De Montfort University and a consultant to North West Water. Finally, I am now engaged, with Sir Rex Richards, In an urgent study for the Department of Health on how research might be safeguarded if the Hammersmith Hospital were transferred to the Charing Cross or the Charing Cross to Hammersmith.

Subjects:
  • Biophysics
Creator Names:
  • Phillips, David Chilton, Baron Phillips of Ellesmere, 1924-1999, scientist and biophysicist
Immediate Source Of Acquisition:
  • The material was received at various dates between January 1991 and February 1994 from Sir David Phillips and from his former Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Oxford University.

     

    The late date and piecemeal arrival of some of the material have made it necessary to intercalate several additional items in the body of the catalogue and to attach addenda to Sections F (Publications), G (Conferences, visits, lectures) and Section O (Advisory Board for the Research Councils).

Conditions of access:

NOT ALL THE MATERIAL IN THE COLLECTION IS YET AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION.

 

ENQUIRIES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TO:

 

THE KEEPER OF WESTERN MANUSCRIPTS

 

THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY

 

OXFORD OX1 3BG

Note:

Compiled by Jeannine Alton

 

THE ASSEMBLING OF THE MATERIAL, AND THE COMPILATION AND PRODUCTION OF THIS CATALOGUE, HAVE BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY A GENEROUS SUBVENTION FROM

 

THE LEVERHULME TRUST

 

The completion of this catalogue of the manuscript papers of Sir David Phillips is a significant event in the work of the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists. Like all such large-scale cataloguing projects it has had a long gestation. Indeed it may almost be said to have had its origins in the earliest days of the NCUACS's Oxford-based predecessor organisation. Sir David has taken an active interest in the scientific archives project since its inception in 1973 and Mrs Jeannine Alton who has now catalogued the Phillips papers for the NCUACS was in charge of the archives work in Oxford from 1973 until the transfer of operations to the University of Bath in 1987. The more immediate impetus for the Phillips cataloguing project, however, was Sir David's resignation in 1990 from his Professorship of Molecular Biophysics at Oxford University to assume the full-time Chairmanship of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils in London. The imminence of his departure from Oxford led to discussions with Sir David about the very substantial archive in his Oxford laboratory, a detailed archival assessment of their quantity, nature and importance for a wide range of aspects of the history of science, and the development of a funding proposal for submission to the Leverhulme Trust. We were very fortunate to secure funding from the Trust for two years with an extension for a third year as the science policy interest of Phillips's career took on a greater archival importance than had originally been anticipated. Sir David has been supportive throughout with advice and encouragement and Mrs Alton's expertise and experience has magnificently met the challenge of difficult technical material, the complexity of UK and international science organisation and the piecemeal delivery of papers over an extended period.

 

The NCUACS would like to take this opportunity to record our gratitude to the Director of the Leverhulme Trust, Sir Rex Richards, and the Leverhulme Trustees for their support of the scientific archives work since the transfer of operations to Bath in 1987. This has taken the form of three major cataloguing projects: the papers of Sir John Kendrew (1987-1989), Sir David Phillips (1991-1994) and Professor Dorothy Hodgkin OM (1992-1994). The three collections are deposited in the Bodleian Library, Oxford where they form an indispensable corpus of material for the history of twentieth-century British science.

 

Peter Harper

 

Archivist, NCUACS

 

February 1994

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Thanks are due primarily to Sir David Phillips for initially allowing his papers to go forward for cataloguing and for making additional material available on a continuing basis. He has been generous with his time and attention for consultation, and, in addition to the autobiographical account quoted above, has made invaluable comments on the catalogue drafts throughout the lengthy process of compilation. Lady Phillips has also contributed much valued information and advice.

 

Mrs Pam Batchelor, Phillips's former secretary at Oxford, was very helpful in overseeing and advising on the transfer of material from the laboratory.

 

Members of the NCUACS, Peter Harper and Timothy E. Powell, and of the staff of the Department of Western Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library have helped at all stages with advice and information.

 

Hazel Gott has earned much gratitude for the patience and skill she has brought to the processing and revising of the catalogue.

 

Jeannine Alton

 

BATH 1994

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