Condolence Book

michael-warehamIt is with great sadness that the University of Birmingham has learned of the death of Professor Michael Wakelam from a suspected Covid-19 infection. Mike worked at the University of Birmingham between 1993 and 2007 as Professor of Molecular Pharmacology in the Institute of Cancer Studies before leaving to become Director of the Babraham Institute.


You are welcome to submit a message of condolence here, which will be reviewed before publishing.

Dear Colleagues

The College was devastated to hear last night about the death of Professor Michael Wakelam from a suspected Covid-19 infection.  Many of you will remember Mike who was professor of molecular pharmacology in the Institute of Cancer Studies from 1993-2007 before leaving to become director of the Babraham Institute.  Mike’s links to Birmingham go even further back as he was an undergraduate and then PhD student in Biochemistry here.

Those of you who knew Mike will remember him not only as a superb scientist but also as a warm, supportive and highly collaborative colleague, he will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts go out to his wife Jane and sons Alex and Patrick.


Professor David Adams
Pro-Vice Chancellor
Head of College of Medical and Dental Sciences
Dean of Medicine

It was with great sadness that I learned of the untimely death of Mike Wakelam. Very sad news and my thoughts and condolences are with his family. 

Mark Kilby (Professor of Fetal Medicine)
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research 

With sadness, I express my deepest sympathy over the passing of Professor Michael Wakelam . My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, his wife Jane and sons Alex and Patrick. This is a difficult time for you, and I share in your grief. Take comfort in knowing that your husband lived an impactful life. Many will miss him. May his soul rest in peace.

Jamil Mahmood (Clinical Research Compliance Manager)
College of Medical and Dental Sciences

To Mike's family and friends - I had the great pleasure of working with Mike during his time at Birmingham and we published three papers together. Mike was a hard task master but I know my research was the better for his critical appraisal. I still saw Mike regularly at meetings after he went to Cambridge and he was as enthusiastic as ever to talk about research. The world of science will be much reduced by his passing. I just hope that the impact he had will help you get through this time of great sadness. You are very much in my thoughts.

Professor Janet Lord
Institute of Inflammation and Ageing

I am deeply saddened by this news which will be felt across the Babraham Institute and in biomedical sciences. Rest in peace and may Mike' s ideas live on.

Paulus Kirchhof
Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences Birmingham, UHZ Hamburg

We have wonderful memories of Mike as both a colleague in the Department and also providing advice over an extended period of time to us and a student undertaking a difficult PhD project on a topic that was second nature to Mike but completely new to us. Mike was understanding, knowledgeable and generously helpful throughout. We also knew Mike outside work; he was an endless source of enthusiasm, curiosity and optimism.

Professor Malcolm Taylor
Institute of Cancer & Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham

Very sad to hear of the passing of Mike. He and David Adams gave me my first chance when I applied for a post-doc position moving from Biosciences to MDS, and fatefully predicted that using some of the ideas I presented in the interview that we would find the ligand for VAP-1 within the first year of the post-doc...something we are still pursuing over 15 years later! I will be forever grateful for that opportunity and am not surprised to hear that he touched many other lives in a similar positive way. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

Dr Chris Weston
Institute of Immunology & Immunotherapy

Mike supported me when I first started at Birmingham by initiating a collaboration. I remember returning from our initial conversation, lifted by the collegiality and energy he exuded. Our project may not have gotten very far, but was stayed was the sense of optimism that he was able to instil.

Klaus Fütterer

Mike and I worked together from when he first arrived in Birmingham. He was a very open and generous person, always ready to provide support and advice. Mike was a very important friend and ally when I was Head of the Cancer Studies Department. His integrity and reliability were matched by the quality and impact of his science. Mike followed in the great and long tradition of lipid biochemistry at the University of Birmingham. But he did more – taking this basic science into the clinical arena by applying his expertise to various diseases particularly providing important insights into the development and treatment of cancer. Mike’s outstanding contribution as Director of the Babraham Institute testifies to his leadership style and personality – compassionate, encouraging and inspirational. The world of science is diminished by Mike’s loss and I can only offer my deep and heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends. 

Professor Lawrence S. Young

What terribly sad news to hear about Mike's untimely death. I worked with Mike over many years and we published together and were co-applicants on a number of successful grants. Mike was a gentle soul with a great sense of humour who was always generous with his science and cared deeply for the people he worked with. My thoughts at this time are with you Jane, Alex and Patrick.

Paul Murray, Professor of Molecular Pathology
Immunology and Immunotherapy (now honorary)

Words fail me. Mike was a such a special person and gifted researcher. Mike's enthusiasm and creativity in research was matched by his kindness and warmth to everyone. I was fortunate to be around in the phosphoinositide area and to have known Mike through this. I was privileged to work with Mike during our brief overlap in Birmingham. We have lost a true superstar in research and a wonderful colleague who will never be forgotten.

Steve Watson
College of Medical and Dental Sciences

Mike was a colleague and a friend from my PhD days. Friendly, smiling, approachable, laughing and intelligent. We will miss you dear friend.

Dr Farhat Khanim
Institute of Clinical Sciences

When we joined the Institute for Cancer Studies in 2002 our office was next to Michael’s. It was pretty obvious what a polymath he was and we felt very sad that his talents were leaving Birmingham and going to The Babraham Institute in Cambridge, which had pursued him for a long time to be its Director. But he was highly successful and certainly fulfilled his potential there. By co-incidence we moved into the same road where Michael, Jane, Alex and Patrick lived in Moseley. He was a pillar of the local community, chair of our Residents Association and the breadth of his incredible knowledge was exposed at our Residents’ Quiz Shows. Retirement wasn’t a word he was considering and the world has lost such a great, talented man who was loved by all. Phil and Sue Johnson.

Professor Philip Johnson
Emeritus Professor, Institute for Cancer and Genomic Studies

Terribly sad news to lose such a great scientific mind who would undoubtedly have had loads more to offer....

Dr Neena Kalia
Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences

Mike was always a friendly person to talk to about cell signalling. He also helped with many aspects of the UK Biochemical Society over the years. His guidance and enthusiasm will be greatly missed.

Professor Frank Michelangeli
Formally of the School of Biociences

I was very sad to learn of Mike's death. I became acquainted with Mike when I was an Assistant Dean in the Medical School. He was extremely knowledgable, always helpful and became a friend.

Martyn Harris
Assistant Dean (Estates), School of Medical and Dental Sciences

Mike was a wonderful friend and colleague for more than 30 years. Enthusiastic, full of ideas and always helpful. He is sadly missed.

Professor Roy Bicknell
Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences

I just learnt of Mike Wakelam’s death with shock and great sadness. We liaised for many years over one particular rare genetic disorder, and I was always touched and inspired by Mike’s deep humanity, breadth of knowledge and indefatigable search for understanding. I send love and sincere condolences to Jane, Alex and Patrick.

Celia Moss
Honorary Professor of Paediatric Dermatology, College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Birmingham Children's Hospital

It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I learned of Michael Wakelam's death. Michael and Jane welcomed me and my family with open arms and generous hearts when we moved across the Atlantic to Birmingham, spending a day with us at Warwick Castle, inviting us over for dinner, helping care for our daughters during the traumatic birth of our son, and helping young scientists learn the ropes. Michael - it's hard to fathom that you have left us. Your spirit of kindness, tenacity and generosity will live on. The quality of your science and your leadership in Birmingham and Cambridge left a deep impression on me and many others. Thank you for being a part of so many lives. We miss you deeply.

Michael Overduin
Honorary Professor, Cancer Sciences

So very sad, Mike was my PhD supervisor and the reason I came to Birmingham in the first place from Scotland. Mike was a wonderful supervisor, always supportive and caring. Mike supported me through difficult times too when my mum passed away suddenly and was always there for me even after my graduation. I am still at UoB 20 years on and although no longer lab based (although Mike never stopped trying to tempt me back...) I now have a wonderful career in clinical trials and I would not have had that without coming to Birmingham to work with Mike - I am very grateful to Mike for shaping a large part of my career. Mike was a lovely, caring man and a dedicated family man - that was always very clear. Far, far too early for him to be gone- such a huge loss indeed. 

Dr Margaret Grant
IAHR - Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit

Mike was not only a brilliant scientist, but also a very kind man and very generous with his time to help others. He was always very positive and I very much enjoyed working with Mike - it was great fun. Mike was one of the good guys and he will be greatly missed.

Dr Sally Roberts
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences 

Absolutely devastated to hear about the terribly sad news of Mike's passing. Mike was a fantastic scientist, mentor and all round excellent guy. It was such a privilege to have worked with him and his team during my PhD. I have many fond memories: His enthusiastic for science, the way in which he mentored us "young ones" up the scientific ladder, and me, nervously anticipated Mike's questions during our PhD annual talks (but that was because we all knew Mike was an encyclopaedia on cell signalling!), not to mention his ability to walk at lightening speed! The last time I saw Mike, I hadn't seen him for years and I just started my research group. He gave me a hug and asked me how it was going - he was that kind of person. I also have Mike to thank for finding me my life partner - without offering Gavin McNee a PhD we would have never met in Birmingham in the Summer of 2004 and have the opportunity to live in wonderful Cambridge. We will all miss you Mike, for your intelligence, contribution to science, and your happy personality. My thoughts are with your family and the research community at Babraham. 

Dr Clare Davies
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences 

I had the pleasure of working in the same Institute as Mike throughout his time in Birmingham. He was clearly a great scientist but more importantly he was a good man, kind and encouraging to others and always supporting other researchers. I cannot begin to imagine how much his family and friends will be missing him but I send my condolences to all of them at this difficult time.

Dr Steve Lee
Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy  

I have very fond memories of working with Mike, he was a good man and will be sorely missed. We had some fun times in Cancer Sciences and his contribution to science was huge. My thoughts and prayers go to Jane, Alex and Patrick at this devastating time

Alison Leese
Laboratory Manager, College of Medical and Dental Sciences

Professor Wakelam was one of the professors in the Institute for Cancer Studies when I first started there as a PhD student. He was an inspirational scientist who was always encouraging to the younger members of the department. I was very sad to hear of his passing and send my best wishes to his family and friends.

Dr Heather Long
Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy


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