Professor Andy Heath
Sadly Professor Andy Heath died after a short illness on 13th December 2015. Andy will be missed by all his colleagues and friends in the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease and beyond. Andy was a fantastically inventive scientist and did much to progress the exploration of CD40 in novel adjuvant platforms. Aspects of his work are being taken forward in Sheffield and elsewhere and are likely to benefit vaccine development in the future. Three of Andy’s colleagues have written personal reflections about him and his work.
I first met Andy in 1981 as we both undertook PhDs on influenza virus, supervised by Roy Jennings. Many useful discussions were held with Andy, discussing the various aspects of our work. Much of our social life was spent with the large group of PhD students in the Virology and Microbiology Departments. Andy had a great sense of humour and would see the funny side of many situations. A favourite haunt was a West Street pizza restaurant that served 19 inch New York pizzas. Andy and my husband used to compete over who could eat the most; often a close run contest!
Having completed his PhD, Andy worked at the Middlesex Hospital in London followed by an exciting move to California where he worked for 5 years at Paravax Inc and at the DNAX Research Institute.
Christopher’s birth prompted a return home to a lectureship in the Medical School and we suggested staying with us whilst finding somewhere to live. An excellent time was had as our household expanded to nine people; six adults and three children for 11 months! Household chores were shared, mammoth supermarket expeditions undertaken and much entertainment had around a protracted dinner in the evening, provided both by children and adults, with many a joke and the day’s experiences shared. It was a really happy and relaxed time for us all. Andy and family later moved to the lovely village of Hayfield in Derbyshire. We spent many chilly bonfire night evenings in their garden sending up ever-larger fireworks, catching up with each other's lives, always with an accompaniment of laughter.
Andy will be very sadly missed by the many people that were fortunate to have spent time with him.
“Andy was passionate about immunology and had a deep curiosity for how the immune response could be enhanced through improving current vaccines. This passion was infectious and everyone that worked with Andy over the years at the University and beyond its walls felt it. Through his leadership and mentorship his group developed novel and patented immunological adjuvants that had the potential to improve the effectiveness of vaccines against diseases such as meningitis and blood cancer.
Although Andy spent the majority of his time in his office writing grants, manuscripts and preparing lectures for undergraduates, as professors do, he would happily come and assist with tasks in the laboratory when requested to. For some reason he could never find a lab coat with long enough sleeves and this led to amusement all around. He would discuss results with his group at length and he was never short of an idea for how the research should be taken forward. Andy was an exceptionally good person to work with, he had compassion, valued everyone’s contribution and most importantly he was a good listener and gave sound advice.
His entrepreneurship led to him founding the University spinout company Adjuvantix. This was important to Andy as he had the vision to not only discover, but also to bring these discoveries into effective therapies for the patients with these diseases and he knew that you have to work with experts outside of the University to reach this goal. The use of immunotherapy in combination with standard therapies for cancer is now a hot topic and Andy’s research was certainly at the forefront of this field and will no doubt be the inspiration for future vaccine research.
Andy will be missed by many and fondly remembered by everyone that was fortunate enough to have known him.”
“I was lucky to have worked for Andy, on and off, for nearly 15 years. In that time Andy was always supportive, compassionate and generous with both his time and knowledge. I often thought that the chaos of his office was probably much like a snapshot of how his mind worked - full of information and ideas, but Andy was able to sift through it all and pull out the important information. Problems were no longer an issue once you presented them to Andy, as he was always calm, compassionate and could find solutions to the most difficult of situations.
I, along with many, many others, will miss Andy for his wonderful mind and ideas, as well as his generous, supportive nature.”