Helping us unlock potential: Bernard Dixon’s story

27 July 2021


“Along with music, science was the passion of my father's life, in particular microbiology. It satisfied his appetite for intellectual discovery and contributing to social progress. He would have been delighted to know his bequest to the Microbiology Society is supporting talented young scientists, just as he was helped in various ways at the start of his career.”

These are the words of James Dixon, son of Dr Bernard Dixon, a member of the Microbiology Society for several decades.  You may recognise his name – originally a microbiologist, he was for most of his career a scientific communicator, perhaps most notably as the Editor of New Scientist in the 1970s, when he doubled its circulation.

Bernard died last autumn, and his executor informed us that he had left the Society what was described in his will as “my collection of antiquarian medical books and historical papers”. The collection of books and papers is extensive and includes a wide-ranging selection of scientific works, many of course focusing on microbiology. We are honoured Bernard chose to leave them to us and Council has agreed the majority will be sold to a specialist book collector while we will retain a selection of the microbiology titles.

Bernard’s wish to support other scientists is at the heart of our Unlocking Potential fundraising activity. We recognise everyone faces a career challenge at some stage – even knowing which career step to take next can be difficult. We may suffer from imposter syndrome or lack confidence. We may face a deep-rooted and fundamental problem like discrimination; we may need support to overcome a change in circumstances or we may just need someone to point us in the right direction.

Overcoming these issues requires a variety of routes to the right support and our fundraising will establish a new grant allowing access to that support. It may be in the form of a careers coach, resilience expert, or mentor or it may be a career development package. Whatever form it takes, it will be tailored to the grant recipient and unique to their needs. 

Bernard wanted to share his lifelong collection of scientific works to benefit others – the income from the sale of these will be allocated to our Unlocking Potential fund. But we need your help too. If you donate to the fund you can help support the people who might, in turn, one day provide solutions to global challenges and help them reach their full career potential.



Image: Dixon family.