Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The story of FW Twort FRS travels to Poland

Back in 2008 I discovered in the Wellcome Trust archives that the famous expert microbiologist and discoverer of bacteriophages, Frederick W Twort was actually born and bred here in Surrey, and I could contact his only son and biographer, Dr Antony Twort.

It was a pleasure to invite Antony to tea. He already knew the way to Reigate because he had regularly driven himself to the Bourne Gallery round the corner in Lesbourne Road (now a trendy bike cafe) for occasional exhibitions.  Little did I know at the time that he had a famous watercolour artist as a distant relative - Flora Twort - whose own magnificent works are permanently on display in the gallery named after her in Petersfield. Antony very kindly brought me some goodies - a copy of his biography, which he inscribed for me, a copy of a crucial Penguin book from 1949 (Science News 14), which was from his father's own stash as one of the key authors, plus a splendid commemorative poster from the American Society of Microbiology that gives his father the credit he deserves in history.

Then in 2012 I also had the pleasure of inviting Antony to lunch - just before his 90th birthday, and I was able to give him an inscribed copy of my book - well, really, I had only written one of the chapters, but I included lots of material about the legendary FW Twort and the pioneering work he did.  It is now, in 2015, exactly 100 years since his discovery was first published in the Lancet, and I hope his son Antony has received my exciting news, that this centenary is going to be commemorated in proper style and dignity in Wroclaw, Poland, 850 miles away, with a one day conference - Clinical Phage Therapy 2015. Sadly, up until now, Twort has always been rather a Cinderella in the miniscule world of microbiology. We can transform all that on Saturday 26th September.

Here is the official website for Clinical Phage Therapy 2015: http://www.iitd.pan.wroc.pl/en/clinphage2015 - detailing the conference programme and speakers, registration, abstracts, and details of the venue and contacts.  Registration is free!

As a special guest, I shall be delighted to attend and present a 5 minute talk with some of my rare Twort photos and happy news of events this year when I have been able to easily spread the word about phage therapy.

Now I shall risk giving the game away: and for some very quick special effects to bring it all bang up to date, I have some marching band music playing Colonel Bogey, plus a video clip of a drone flying over a fabulous fairytale castle just 50 miles from Wroclaw Glowny railway station, which Winston Churchill visited way back in 1906 when it was still called Breslau. So I think that might be rather fun and I do think Dr FW Twort would have approved. (Incidentally, Twort once put butter on the railway tracks and watched the steam train skidding back down the hill again by his local station - naughty!)

My photo: Marching band playing Colonel Bogey to 1000 Churchill Fellows, at Blenheim Palace, 2015
                                                            (click link for the music)

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