Timothy John Bonham-Carter 1940-2021


We are sad to announce the passing of Tim on 16th February who had battled with multiple myeloma for the last 8 years.  He lived longer and more happily than we thought possible, in part due to the provision of drugs that France pays for that the UK NHS would not have, and surely due to the Provencal way of life that his wife Mary and he adopted from the turn of the millennium.  A smoker from 16, hitting 40 a day until he quit overnight when Maggie Thatcher raised duty, he had already survived bowel and prostate cancer.

Tim helped create the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and was chair for two years.  He influenced the change in stock market rules to allow unprofitable biotech companies to list – hard to imagine in today’s speculative world.  He collaborated with many: helping launch ESACT; unsuccessfully interacted with certain Green groups and contributed to many conferences on computer modeling and control including ICCAFT with Henri Blachere, a future business partner at Setric Genie Industriel (SGi).

While often thought of as a leader, he was never comfortable giving speeches and preferred to be in the background.  He suffered from dyslexia that was not appreciated until he was nearly 50.  It was tough enough that he once skipped school for 6 weeks and spent the time in London’s galleries.  He became fluent in French at 7 during a 6 month stay in Paris with his maternal great grandmother.  As 10 pound Poms with his new wife, he became a computer consultant in Melbourne - which had one of Australia’s two computers.  Later, back in the UK, he became a stock broker and shortly went bankrupt.

In the late 70’s, he joined his mother, Lesley, at LH Fermentation and helped transform it into a successful supplier of fermenters to the early biotechnology businesses like Glaxo and ICI.  With Celltech, LH developed novel airlift bioreactors; at Porton, they had Botox but didn’t know how to make money from it; with Lonrho, research started on monoclonal antibodies, a class of drugs that helped prolong his life over 40 years later (one of which was actually manufactured with equipment supplied by his son).  He was early, perhaps the first, to attach personal computers to fermenters, such as the Commodore Pet with a 4Kb memory.

Forging ahead again in the 90s with a UCL spin-out Ensynthase Engineering with Mike Turner and starting another company, Adaptive Biosystems, success could not be repeated – perhaps these ideas were too early: he was first to utilize AI in fermentation and the first to release a standard product which could predict productivity from a few reactor runs.

He served on the boards or was a trustee of several charities including the Florence Nightingale museum.  Tim was also involved in the politics of Richmond, Surrey, and with others, he was an early pioneer of recycling with profits donated to local charities.

His final “Good Year”s were spent happily with his wife, many friends and family, in a Provencal Hameau enjoying the local produce.  His joviality, kindness, welcoming attitude and smile will be greatly missed.


Should you wish to commemorate his life, we would encourage you to make a donation to Myeloma UK.