Arch Virol (2004) 149: 211–213
David Christopher Kelly CMG (1944–2003)
David Kelly was found dead in woodlands near his home in
the Oxfordshire countryside on Friday 17 July 2003. David’s
distinguished contribution as an international expert on
biological weapons has become the subject matter and centre
of discussion for numerous internet sites and newspapers.
His earlier contributions to virology and microbiology have
largely been subsumed within the turbulent waters of the
recent war in Iraq, and the UK inquiry led by Lord Hutton
into the reasons leading to David’s suicide.
David (frequently known as Dai to his friends) was born in the Rhondda Valley, attending
Pontypridd Grammar School. During this period, he ran cross-country for Wales at junior
level, and acquired a life-long love for Rugby Union Football, being a frequent attender of
international matches involving Wales. He also inherited or acquired some of the love for
music that is a tradition of that country; in his case it emerged in his skill on the saxophone.
His ﬁrst University course was a BSc in Microbiology at the University of Leeds, followed
by an MSc in Virology at the University of Birmingham, where his lecturers included Peter
Wildy and Douglas Watson.
In October 1968 David, who was by now married to his wife Jan, started a DPhil
degree at the University of Oxford in the Unit of Insect Pathology, under the supervision
of Tom Tinsley. Working on the large DNA insect iridescent viruses (family Iridoviridae)
he undertook research on their biochemical properties and replication, which developed an
improved understanding of these viruses and their taxonomic relationships. He retained an
interest in this virus group for many years, culminating in his review of Insect Iridescent
Viruses in 1985 (Current Topics in Microbiology 116, 23–35).
Following the award of his DPhil, David moved to the University of Warwick, working
on inﬂuenza virus as a post-doc for two years with Nigel Dimmock. In 1974 he rejoined
the Oxford group, which by that stage had become the NERC Unit of Invertebrate Vi-
rology, and later evolved into the NERC Institute of Virology and Environmental Micro-
biology. In the period between 1974 and 1984, the main emphasis of his research was
on the biochemical properties and replication of baculoviruses. He was amongst the ﬁrst
scientists to study biochemical aspects of baculovirus replication in cell culture, leading to
an important series of publications in the late 1970s and 1980s on baculovirus infection
sequence, protein synthesis, viral DNA infectivity and the induction of baculovirus infections
in persistently-infected cells. During this period, he also collaborated with virus ecologists
in the NERC group, including Hugh Evans and Philip Entwistle, who were interested in