Centre for Reproductive Health

In Memoriam Jeffrey William Pollard

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend, Professor Jeffrey W. Pollard, on 1 May 2023.

Picture of Professor Jeffrey Pollard
Professor Jeffrey Pollard

Jeff, who died peacefully at home after struggling against cancer, was Professor of Resilience Biology in the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Edinburgh, and for nearly a decade led the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Reproductive Health (CRH), as Director, (2013-2022). He was committed to ensuring the CRH continues to be world leading in reproductive health and science.

Jeff graduated with a first-class special honours degree in Zoology from Sheffield University followed by a PhD at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CRUK) in London. He spent a post-doctoral period at Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto and thereafter, took a Faculty position at King’s College University of London. In 1988 he joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York where he worked for 24 years prior to moving to Edinburgh in 2013 as Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health. At the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jeff was the Louis Goldstein Swann Chair in Women’s Health, Deputy Director of the NCI funded Cancer Center, and Director of the NIH funded Center for the Study of Reproductive Biology and Women’s Health.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.

Jeff received several awards most notably the American Cancer Society “Medal of Honour for Basic Science Research” for his studies in tumour immunology (2010), Rothschild Yvette–Meynet Curie award (2009), the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013 – 2018) and the Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (2013 – 2021).

Jeff performed research in women’s reproductive health for his entire career with a recent emphasis on the mechanisms of action of female sex steroid hormones in controlling cell proliferation and on the tumour microenvironment of breast cancer. In the former programme his lab sought to understand the mechanism of progesterone in negatively regulating oestrogen-induced uterine epithelial cell proliferation and in the preparation of the uterus for blastocyst implantation. In the latter programme, he pioneered the field of tumour microenvironment by showing for the first time the protumoural role of macrophages in cancer. His work focused on mechanisms of these pro-tumoral actions of macrophages with a particular emphasis on metastatic disease.

His studies significantly contributed to the fundamental role of the tumour microenvironment and represent the solid foundation of this promising research field.

Jeff was a member of the COST actions Mye-EUNITER and Mye-InfoBank, an European multi-centre initiative focused on identifying novel myeloid targets for cancer therapy. He was also a founding member, director of, and adviser to Macomics Ltd – a start-up aimed at developing novel therapies targeting tumour-associated macrophages.  From this long and very successful career, he leaves a huge legacy to the cancer research community and to the world of macrophage and reproductive biology.

With his devoted wife and lifelong partner Ooi Thye Chong he shared an enduring passion for Japanese art, food and wine.

Luca Cassetta, Ooi Thye Chong, Sven Brandau, Richard Anderson and Hilary Critchley