Professor Gerry Potter - a tribute

World-renowned chemist and former De Montfort University Professor of Pharmacy, Gerry Potter has died at the age of 63.

Here, his son Matthew Potter, who teaches Accounting and Finance at DMU, pays tribute to his father, whose legacy includes developing one of the leading treatments for prostate cancer.

Professor Gerry Potter, my father, was an immensely talented chemist and made a huge mark in his career almost straight away. He completed his PhD in 1990 and was immediately tasked with developing drug treatments for prostate cancer.  In 1993, Abiraterone Acetate was patented and eventually approved for use in 2011, under the brand name Zytiga.

 Gerry Potter

As a result, Dad and his colleagues were awarded a prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry Innovation Award in 2011, in recognition of the scientific innovation required to take abiraterone from concept to one of the leading treatments of prostate cancer – ultimately benefiting thousands of men and their families around the world.  My father won this award three times, the only person to do so.

After leaving the Institute of Cancer Research, Dad worked in Cambridge and in Lyon, France, before joining DMU in 1997. He took to teaching straight away and had a unique approach in explaining chemistry, one colleague describing him as being “an inspiration to students.” Dad became a professor in 1999, something we, as his family, were very proud of.

My father was a true eccentric to those who knew him, never afraid to climb a tree, eat wild mushrooms in the woods, or get everyone salsa dancing. It was this eccentricity, and his gifted knowledge of chemistry, that inspired his most important discovery. That of Salvestrols.

Salvestrols, found in all good fruit and vegetables, have been shown to exhibit anti-cancer properties, whereby it activates enzymes that cause the cancer cells to starve without harming healthy cells. This breakthrough was Dad’s true Eureka! moment, and led him to believe that many forms of cancer, are in fact curable.

In later years, Professor Potter became “Grandad” to eight grandchildren, and is survived by his four children, myself, Justina, Danielle, and Robert.

I became a lecturer in the School of Accounting, Finance and Economics at DMU, proud to work where he had. Our whole family will always be so proud of our father. He was such a fun and loving Dad, and as he progressed through his career, we looked up to him so much.

He has had a great time these last few years, playing with his grandchildren and enjoying quality family time. We miss him already but have the most amazing memories.

RIP Professor Gerry Potter.

The funeral will take place at 1pm on Thursday 16 February 2023, at St Joseph’s Church, 12 Goodwood Road, Leicester, LE5 6SG.

Posted on Friday 3 February 2023

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