Monday, 6 May 2013

Belgian Nobel Prize winner and Belgian refugee ends his life at 95

Two days ago, Christian De Duve, aged 95, ended his life. Christian De Duve was born in Thames Ditton on 2 October 1917.

The son of Belgian refugees spent the first few years of his life in the area between SW London and Surrey. The family returned to Belgium in 1920, which is slightly peculiar as there had been a government-funded organised return of the Belgians from mid December 1918 until mid March 1919 (with an official end to the repatriation on 4 May 1919).

Together with Albert Claude and George E. Palade, he was awarded a shared Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1974. The team discovered the functioning of lysosomes and peroxisomes in cell structures.

On 1 April 2013, Christian had fallen and it had taken him hours before he managed to get any help. In an interview a week later he announced he would terminate his life himself soon. He did so on 4 May. With De Duve arguably the most renowned Belgian refugee still alive died.

Since 1988 De Duve was a member of the Royal Society. Here he talks about his parents, Antwerp and his birthplace.

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