Sir Jim Smith

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Sir Jim Smith (Class of 1972)

The Director of Science at the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jim Smith, says that Latymer was a huge influence on his life.

One of the UK’s most distinguished developmental biologists, Sir Jim Smith, is the Director of Science at the Wellcome Trust and runs his own research team at the Francis Crick Institute. His area of specialist expertise is embryology – in particular the cell development of frog embryos, where he is at the forefront of research into how some cells know when to start dividing and when to stop and whether they should migrate from one part of the embryo to another – research that has an important bearing on human stem cells.

Latymer was a huge influence on Jim's life, as he says;

“First of all it got me into science and into Cambridge; both things for which I will always be grateful.”

Jim benefited from the typical Latymer experience, not only excelling in science but also enjoying the arts. The School has always encouraged pupils to engage in an eclectic range of subjects, with a huge range of co-curricular clubs and societies on offer and a wide range of personalities to go with them.

Jim responded enthusiastically about what the School could offer both academically and culturally;

“I enjoyed what I was doing academically and studied hard but also loved what happened after school, particularly on a Friday. I loved the Gild, the fact that the Godolphin girls came and that we all went to the Ravenscourt Arms afterwards. It was just great fun. ”

Along with his rounded education, Jim credits the School for his ability to communicate with people from a diverse range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. This is why, now as a Governor of Latymer, he is so passionate about the School increasing its bursary provision. 

As he says;

“One of the things about Latymer is that you meet such interesting and clever people from all sorts of backgrounds. I think that’s the really valuable thing the school gave me – the social skills, the ability to communicate and to get on with people. If I have any talent for running organisations now, it’s got a great deal to do with what I learned at Latymer.

“I can’t imagine getting a better education than the education you will get at Latymer Upper School. The quality of the teaching, the facilities, the extramural activities, the people you’ll meet, the interaction with Latymerians of all sorts. In the future you’ll look back, you’ll look back on your education, you’ll look back on your friends, you’ll look back on what you’ve achieved… and you’ll recognise it, your education at Latymer, as being the door that opened for you a route to so many different ways to succeed.”