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Monday, June 30, 2003

Today is AMIT DUVSHANI DAY -- at least on this blog

What happened?
Israeli Amit Duvshani applied to Oxford for a doctoral position. This is the reply that he received:

Original Message -----
From: "Andrew Wilkie"
To: "Amit Duvshani"
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2003 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: PhD application

Dear Amit Duvshani,

Thank you for contacting me, but I don't think this
would work. I have a huge problem with the way that
the Israelis take the moral high ground from their
appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict
gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because
the (the Palestinians) wish to live in their own

I am sure that you are perfectly nice at a personal
level, but no way would I take on somebody who had
served in the Israeli army. As you may be aware,
I am not the only UK scientist with these views but
I'm sure you will find another suitable lab if you
look around.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Wilkie

Nuffield Professor of Pathology,
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine,
The John Radcliffe,
Oxford OX3 9DS,

Tel (44)-1865-222619
Fax (44)-1865-222500

Who is this Wilkie fellow, anyway?
Prof. Andrew Wilkie is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science and Professor of Genetics at Oxford University.

Here is a profile of Prof. Wilkie, published in The Oxford Blueprint, October 31, 2002:

New Professor of Pathology

Andrew Wilkie, currently a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science based at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, has been selected Nuffield Professor of Pathology with effect from May 2003 when he will become a Fellow of Pembroke College.
Professor Wilkie, who is also an Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics at the Department of Medical Genetics, Churchill Hospital, has been a Professor of Genetics at Oxford since 2000. Over the past nine years Professor Wilkie's research has focused on the developmental genetics of skull and limb malformations, caused by alterations (mutations) in genes involved in the normal processes of embryonic development. In 1995 Professor Wilkie's group discovered the cause of Apert Syndrome, which is characterised by both craniosynostosis (fusion of the skull bones) and syndactyly (fusion between the digits). Professor Wilkie works closely with the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary where many affected children are treated.

June 27 response (press release) from Oxford University:
A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said:

"Our staff may hold strongly-felt personal opinions. Freedom of expression is a fundamental tenet of University life, but under no circumstances are we prepared to accept or condone conduct that appears to, or does, discriminate against anyone on grounds of ethnicity or nationality, whether directly or indirectly. This candidate is entitled to submit an application and to have it dealt with fairly according to our normal criteria.
"Professor Wilkie has issued a personal apology regarding remarks he made by e mail to an applicant for a research degree at Oxford. An immediate and thorough investigation of this matter is now being carried out in accordance with the University's procedures and a report will be presented to the Vice-Chancellor next week."

Full, unabridged, text of Professor Wilkie's apology, included in the Oxford press release:
"I recognise and apologise for any distress caused by my e mail of 23 June and the wholly inappropriate expression of my personal opinions in that document. I was not speaking on behalf of Oxford University or any of its constituent parts. I entirely accept the University of Oxford's Equal Opportunities and Race Equality policies."

June 28 Statement from Pembroke College:
"Applications for the admission of graduates are a matter for the University and so the College was not involved in this process. Pembroke College fully endorses the statement issued by the University on this matter and the College will await the outcome of the University's investigation."

All Jews are Responsible for one Another
BlogNote: I feel very strongly that those who are responsible for placing and maintaining Prof. Wilkie in a position of influence should hear from those of us who are offended by Wilkie’s action and attitude. After all, it is they who accorded him the opportunity and authority he has abused. Prof. Wilkie's bigotry reflects poorly upon all those around him, because, like he said, "I am not the only UK scientist with these views."

For this reason, I have researched, and am posting, the following contact information. Yael

Wilkie works for the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. WIMM is funded by the University of Oxford, the MRC, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust.

University of Oxford
Office of Public Relations public.relations@admin.ox.ac.uk

Office of Public Relations, Director, Helen Carasso helen.carasso@admin.ox.ac.uk

Office of Public Relations, Asst. Director, Christine Saward christine.saward@admin.ox.ac.uk

Oxford Information Office information.officer@admin.ox.ac.uk

The newsletter of the University of Oxford: “The Oxford Blueprint” (circulation: 15,000) press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk

The official journal of the University of Oxford: “The University Gazette” Editor: M. M. Harrington gazette@admin.ox.ac.uk

The alumni magazine of the University of Oxford: “Oxford Today” oxford.today@admin.ox.ac.uk

Results of investigation of this incident will ultimately go to Oxford's Vice Chancellor: Sir Colin Lucas colin.lucas@admin.ox.ac.uk

Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine is funded by the University of Oxford, the MRC, Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust.

***Central to many of these organizations is Sir Prof. David J. Weatherall***

“Professor Weatherall has, in the last nine or ten years and with the MRC, ICRF, Wellcome Trust, the E.P. Abraham Research Fund, the Nuffield Medical Trustees of the University of Oxford and other charitable bodies, been responsible for the development of the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford.”

“Professor David Weatherall is the outstanding British clinician scientist of his generation. He is an accomplished pioneering researcher in molecular genetics, haematology, pathology and clinical medicine.” His present posts include Emeritus Regius Professor of Medicine, and Hon. Director, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford. Honorary Consultant Physician, Oxfordshire District Health Authority. Emeritus Hon. Director, MRC Molecular Haematology Unit, University of Oxford

I would think that Sir Professor Weatherall would be an important and influential person to whom to direct your comments:


The director of WIMM is Andrew McMichael andrew.mcmichael@ndm.ox.ac.uk

Cancer Research UK
Your comments, directed to the Trustees, can be posted at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/aboutus/contactus/contactusform/

Wilkie is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science. The Wellcome Trust funds the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.

Media Office at Wellcome Trust media.office@wellcome.ac.uk

Human Resources at Wellcome Trust hr@wellcome.ac.uk

Policy Unit at Wellcome Trust policy.unit@wellcome.ac.uk

Wilkie is a Nuffield Professor of Pathology, and serves on the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The Nuffield Foundation funds both the Wellcome Trust, above, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics bioethics@nuffieldfoundation.org

Public Liasion Officer, Nicola Perrin nperrin@nuffieldfoundation.org

Prof. Bob Hepple, QC, Master of Clare College and Emeritus Prof. of Law, Cambridge bgh1000@cam.ac.uk

The Medical Research Council (MRC) funds both the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine.

MRC Chief Press Officer, Carolan Davidge, press.office@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk

MRC Senior Press Officer, Dawn Duncan, same email as above

Imperial Cancer Research Fund – see Cancer Research UK above (same)

Finally, I read in a comment at LittleGreenFootballs that the Wolfson Foundation which funds WIMM, can be reached through the office of their solicitors, Berwin Leighton Paisner. I have not personally confirmed this. The email given was charities@blplaw.com

This reply is addressed to anyone e-mailing me on the mistaken
assumption that I have any managerial or other responsibility for
Professor Andrew Wilkie at the University of Oxford.

I have no such responsibility.

The confusion seems to have arisen because, like Professor Wilkie, I
recently advertised a position in my laboratory. This is quite
separate from - and unconnected with - Professor Wilkie's recent

Thank you,
Lars Fugger