Tributes to immunologist Leslie Brent, 94, who arrived on first Kindertransport
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Tributes to immunologist Leslie Brent, 94, who arrived on first Kindertransport

Professor Emeritus at the University of London came to Britain to escape Nazi Germany and spoke about his experience of Kristallnacht

Leslie Brent
Leslie Brent

Tributes have been paid to leading immunologist and Kindertransport survivor Leslie Brent, who has died aged 94.

Brent spoke extensively about his experiences as a refugee from the Nazis – including at Westminster Abbey last year to mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Born as Lothar Baruch in Köslin, 1924, his family placed him into a Jewish orphanage in Berlin to avoid persecution in 1936.

With the rise of the Nazis, he was sent to Britain on the first Kindertransport, and attended Anna Essinger’s Bunce Court School in Kent.

He studied Zoology at Birmingham University, where he was the co-discoverer of acquired immunological tolerance with Peter Medawar and Rupert Billingham.  Medawar was awarded the Nobel Prize for the feat.

He was appointed Professor Emeritus at the University of London in 1990.

In addition to his academic career, he was a stalwart member of the Association of Jewish Refugees, regularly speaking at events and commemorations.

Saying the organisation, and fellow Kinder are “deeply saddened” by his passing, the AJR said: “Our heartfelt sympathies go to his family, who will be in our thoughts, as will Leslie, whose legacy and memory will live on through the interview he gave to the AJR Refugee Voices testimony collection.”

The Holocaust Educational Trust said it “is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kindertransport refugee Leslie Brent.

“Arriving in England on one of the first Kindertransports in 1938, Leslie fled persecution at an early age and went on to share his testimony to ensure that this and future generations learn about the consequences of hate.”

Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said: “Professor Leslie Brent was a leading light in immunology and his work underpinned research in this field for decades.  Having arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport in 1938, Leslie built an incredibly successful career in immunology, working his way to the position of Professor of Immunology at St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical School, London, a role at which he excelled until his retirement in 1990.”

As a PhD student, Leslie was a key figure in the discovery of acquired immunological tolerance, working with Peter Medawar and Rupert Billingham.  This work revolutionised our understanding of the factors involved in transferring tissues from one individual to another and formed a new field of research, laying the foundations for tissue and organ transplantation, medical procedures which have now saved hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.”

Leslie’s contribution to the field of immunology and the medical advance of tissue and organ transplantation was huge and the community mourns his passing with great sadness.”

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