Interview with Mr Jonathan Marsh, conducted by Professor Tilli Tansey, for the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group, 14 November 2016, in the School of History, Queen Mary University of London. Transcribed by Mrs Debra Gee, and edited by Professor Tilli Tansey. The project management and the technical support (production and filming) were undertaken by Mr Adam Wilkinson and Mr Alan Yabsley, respectively.
Mr Jonathan Marsh (b. 1942) left Hendon County Grammar School in 1960 and started at the NIMR on 8 August as a Junior Technician in the Division of Chemotherapy. He was allocated to work with Neil Brown. The Head of Department was Dr Hawking. When his A-level results were announced, botany, zoology, and chemistry, he was transferred to the Junior Technical Officer Grade. He obtained a Higher National Certificate in Applied Biology at Brunel College of Advanced Technology in 1964, which also gave “licentiate” membership of the Institute of Biology. In Chemotherapy he worked on variation in the antigenic properties of trypanosomes for Neil Brown. He transferred to the Electronics Section of the Engineering Department in 1965 and worked with John Lewin, who ran the section with responsibility for the provision of bespoke electronic instrumentation needed in the NIMR. He obtained a Higher National Certificate in Electronics and Electrical Engineering at Hendon College in 1969. He worked with John Lewin until 1975, when Lewin left to join the computing section. With Lewin he developed the apnoea alarm, the planimeter, worked for Griffith Pugh on instrumentation for monitoring the athletes at the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968, and fulfilled very many other requirements for NIMR research programmes. He then worked with Mike Anson mainly on instrumentation for the audiometer and stopped flow circular dichroism and temperature jump as well as being Head Technician and running the section. During this time his section provided the electronics for the insulin infuser among many other items. He became Head of the Department of Engineering in 1994 and retired from the NIMR in 2002. He was also sometime chairman of the NIMR LJNCC and chairman of the Safety Committee and a member of the MRC Pay and Grading Committee. He was NIMROD Social Secretary for some time, and for many years ran the annual children’s party. He also chaired the MRC Staff Benevolent Fund Association for 15 years and remains a Committee Member.
The History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group is funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is a registered charity (no. 210183). The current interview has been funded by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award entitled “Makers of modern biomedicine: testimonies and legacy” (2012-2017; awarded to Professor Tilli Tansey).
The interview is part of the History of the Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection).
Access to the transcript of this video interview and its related material:
History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), items e2017196-e2017219.
Example of how to cite: Tansey E M (intvr); Yabsley A (prod) (2017) Marsh, Jonathan: 01 - Childhood interest in science & technology (14-Nov-2016). History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), item e2017197. London: Queen Mary University of London.
Note: Video interviews are conducted following standard oral history methodology, and have received ethical approval (reference QMREC 0642). Video interview transcripts are edited only for clarity and factual accuracy. Related material has been deposited in the Wellcome Library.
© The Trustee of the Wellcome Trust, London, 2017.
Mr Marsh has contributed to our Wellcome Witness Seminar on Technology, Techniques, and Technicians at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) c.1960-c.2000