David King

David King


First broadcast: Sun 22 May 2005

Chief Scientific Adviser, Chemist

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Prof Sir David King. He's had a testing four and a half years in the job - his tenure has coincided with an epidemic of foot and mouth disease, as well as a series of ongoing public health controversies played out in the media, such as the safety of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) and concerns over genetically-modified crops.

He was born in South Africa and brought up in a middle-class suburb of Johannesburg. As a teenager he was taken by his school to visit a township to see how black South Africans lived. He says it was an eye-opening experience and, while he pursued his scientific studies, he also took a stance against the political regime and wrote letters denouncing apartheid. His activism brought him to the attention of South Africa's secret police - he was questioned and left with little option but to leave the country. He came to Britain and continued his studies here. He pursued an academic career - he was made the 1920 Professor of Physical Chemistry at Cambridge University in 1988, a post he still holds, and has recently been confirmed for a second term as the Government's chief scientist.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]


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