James Walker (1903-1993)
James Walker devoted 30 years to NIMR and led organic and synthetic chemistry at the Institute from 1950 to 1969.
Walker trained in chemistry then worked at the Dyson Perrins Laboratory in Oxford with Robert Robinson before joining Harold King’s chemotherapy team at NIMR in September 1939. Among his more unusual tasks during World War Two was the analysis of the contents of medicine vials carried by the Nazi officer Rudolf Hess. After the war Walker toured Germany on behalf of the allied intelligence services, gathering information on German science and technology. He wrote a detailed diary of his observations, including the poverty of post-war Germany. He became a distinguished scientist in his own right for work in steroid chemistry, chemotherapy and the chemistry of antibiotics, and was co-chair of the MRC Chemotherapy Committee. He succeeded Harold King as head of Chemistry (chemical) in 1950 and retired on 31 March 1969.