Professor Mike Page (1944-2021)

Research 

Physical Organic Chemistry, BioOrganic and Medicinal Chemistry, Enzymology

Personal 

Very sadly, Mike passed away on the 30th January 2021.

Mike completed his undergraduate degree (GRSC) at Brighton, obtained his PhD under supervision of Prof B Capon at Leicester / Glasgow, then conducted postdoctoral research with W. P. Jencks (Brandeis, USA) and R. P. Bell FRS (Stirling). He was appointed to a lectureship at Huddersfield in 1973, and was promoted to Professor in 1985, becoming Head of School in the same year, then Dean for Research in 1987, and Deputy Vice Chancellor 2004-2009. Over a career at Huddersfield spanning some five decades, he inspired generation after generation of undergraduates. Mike published over 200 papers and supervised more than 50 PhD students. He was the founding Director of the Institute of Physical Organic Science (IPOS).

Mike had wide research interests, including kinetics and mechanism in organic chemistry and biochemistry; chemistry of ß-lactam antibiotics and their derivatives, mechanism of action of enzymes: ß-lactamases, esterases, proteases, lipases and nitrilases; drug design - enzyme inhibitors; enzymes in synthesis - enantioselective biotransformations; understanding enzyme catalysis; intramolecular reactions; proton transfer; metal-ion and micelle catalysed reactions; design of synthetically useful catalysts, organometallic catalysts in enantioselective synthesis; reactions in liquid ammonia, and the origins of life.

Mike won numerous awards for his research, including the RSC Perkin Transactions 150th Anniversary Prize 1991, The RSC Organic Reaction Mechanisms Prize 2003, and the SCI Award for R&D for Society 2010. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in 2009.

Mike was a remarkable man, and as noted by John M. Brown FRS "Very few chemists achieve textbook status through their postdoctoral work”.

Professor Lloyd-Jones owes much of his career to the inspiration and guidance provided my Mike, over a period of more than 36 years, and when Mike retired from Huddersfield in 2018 as Research Professor, he joined us at Edinburgh as our Visiting Academic Researcher. As one would expect of Mike, he made substantial intellectual contributions to a number of our research themes, and continued to publish cutting edge papers on Physical Organic Chemistry.

Anyone who encountered Mike will remember a man of great intellect, modesty, humour, creativity, and as much interest in the work of others as in his own. At lectures he had the ability to ask simple, yet highly penetrating questions that got right to the fundamental issue of a problem - often making suggestions to the speaker for further research directions that frequently proved pivotal. Mike’s warmth, enthusiasm, and support will be deeply missed by the group, and by physical organic chemistry community worldwide.

Professor Mike Page (1944-2021) at The Page Symposium 2017, together with speakers Professor Nick Williams, Professor AnnMarie O’Donoghue, and Professor Guy Lloyd-Jones.