University College London virology professor Robin Weiss retires from research at the end of March after 30 years of continuous MRC funding. He tells Sarah Harrop about his eventful career, which has involved critical discoveries about HIV’s modus operandi, catching jungle fowl in Malaysia and developing microbicides based on llama antibodies.
The MRC runs through Robin’s career like the letters in a stick of rock, right back to his first ever job as a graduate research assistant in India with the now defunct MRC Experimental Genetics Unit in 1963.
During his PhD in cancer research, also funded by the MRC, he switched tracks to cancer-causing viruses, and the next two decades saw Robin carrying out virology research in other far flung corners of the globe. He did a postdoc in Prague “in the dark days after the Soviet tanks rolled in” and went on a field trip to Malaysia during which he lived with aboriginal people and caught wild jungle fowl to study the virus strains they were carrying in their DNA. Read more