In Memoriam: Dr Robert Goodlad

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Dr Robert Goodlad, a scientist who made signal contributions to our understanding of the control of growth in the gut. Robert started his research at the Rowett Institute as a graduate student supervised by BF Fell, working on the role of diet in modulating cell proliferation on the sheep rumen, a theme which was to occupy the rest of his research career. He then moved to postdoctoral research at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital from 1981 to 1989, where he developed precise and accurate methods for the simultaneous measurement of intestinal crypt cell production and intestinal water absorption. In collaboration with Steve Bloom and Nick Wright, in a series of stringently controlled experiments, he established the role of a number of regulatory peptides, particularly epidermal growth factor and enteroglucagon, gastrin, the glucagon-like peptides and prostaglandins as trophic factors for the gut, and the factors which modulate intestinal adaptation, particularly luminal nutrition. He played a prominent role in the debate on genotoxicity and acid suppressing agents.

Robert moved to the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now the Crick) at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, eventually reaching the level of Principal Scientific Officer, where he started a major study on the interaction of fibre with the intestine: he showed that many dietary components classified as ‘fibre’ in fact stimulated cell proliferation in the colon, and was forced to the conclusion that, far from being protective, dietary fibre might be a risk factor for the development of colon cancer. He maintained this very unpopular stance against considerable opposition, summarised in a widely quoted leading article in Gut in 2001. Latterly his work concentrated in the interaction between cell proliferation and carcinogenesis. Robert was a regular and enthusiastic contributor to BSG meetings and made regular appearances at the Prout Club. He saw long service as a reviewer and Vice-Chairman on the EU Framework programme.

Robert came across as a rather diffident individual, whose reticence hid a passion for gut biology, a rigorous approach to accurate and precise experimentation and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the literature. On retirement he was able to indulge his passion for Land Rover vehicles and rare breed sheep.

He will be greatly missed by a number of close colleagues; our thoughts are with Paula and his family.


Dr Philip Kaye Chair, Pathology Committee
Dr Lai Mun Wang Secretary, Pathology Committee

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