Jon Driver died suddenly on 28th November 2011. Jon was a wonderful individual; a loving son, husband, father and brother; and an irreplaceable friend and colleague.

This is a place for everyone who knew Jon to share our memories of him and through this to help celebrate his life.

If you would like to add a description of your memories of Jon to this blog please contact with the text you would like posted. We welcome any contribution, from short snippets to longer pieces. Please bear in mind this is a place to remember Jon and to help celebrate his life.

As well as this blog, there is also a photograph album to which friends and colleagues are most welcome to contribute. If you would like to add one or more pictures please email it/them to

2 December 2011

from Chris Chambers

Jon was a wonderful mentor to me from 2006-2008 when I worked at the ICN. Our chats were fantastic and his insights into science were always razor sharp and delivered at light speed! I soon got into the habit of having a strong espresso before key meetings just to keep up with him (and even then…)

I have so many fond memories of our conversations....from his dry wit about life and politics (and interestingly, sometimes about the Royal family), to his clarity of thought on so many wide ranging issues in science. I no doubt embarrassed myself on many occasions with my ignorance.

Some more light-hearted recollections…

Before I came to the UK, I was told by my previous supervisor (who worked with Jon for many years) that he often talks low and fast, and to be sure to just summon the courage to tell him if he mumbles – the biggest mistake you could make with Jon was to pretend to understand! I still remember one meeting early on when Jon was explaining something faster than my brain or ears could keep up with, when I foolishly blurted out “you’re mumbling, Jon”, and then realised what I had said and who I had said it too! But Jon just laughed, leaned back in his chair and repeated everything extremely loud at an embarrassingly slow pace. It was hilarious and a great ice breaker. Another thing that stunned me was how incredibly organised and efficient his thoughts were. You would no sooner finish a meeting, return to your desk, and there would be an email waiting for you from Jon summarising everything said by everyone over the course of an hour, in very few words, and in crystal clear terms.

One thing I will always remember is how Jon would sit in the front row of virtually every ICN seminar, and at some point during a talk would just start talking himself, always asking some brilliant and incisive question without even raising his hand. It was guaranteed to send unprepared speakers into a spin, but I don't think that's why Jon did it. He just wanted his question please. Jon didn’t mind – he seemed as comfortable at the ICN as if he was sitting in his own lounge room. He really seemed at home at those seminars.

Lab meetings were particularly memorable. I remember one time in 2006 or 2007 when Martin Eimer was a guest at one of Jon’s group meetings. The two of them were vigorously debating something, with Jon rocking back and forth on two legs of his chair (as he tended to when operating at full steam)….when all of sudden Jon leaned back just a bit too far and nearly ended upside down in a rubbish bin. It was brilliant and caused much (muffled) laughter. Jon smiled ruefully but barely paused in his argument.

I find it easier to reminisce about the light-hearted moments because, in reality, I find Jon’s passing too sad for words. He gave me so many opportunities and taught me so much, and demanded absolutely nothing in return. In those two years at the ICN, I learned a great deal about the craft of science and he taught me how things worked in the UK. I “grew up” as a scientist because of his mentoring.

As others have so rightly said, aside from his genius, his most defining characteristic was his utter selflessness. He did science not to become powerful or important, but because he wanted to discover out how things worked. I always felt that his generosity to junior researchers was motivated by a desire to trigger that same sense of wonder in others. We have lost not just a brilliant scientist and leader, but a benevolent mentor, and a genuinely inspirational and irreplaceable person. I will miss him.