|The Lord Swann|
|Born||Michael Meredith Swann
1 March 1920
|Died||2 September 1990(aged 70)|
|Institutions||Cambridge University, Edinburgh University|
|Known for||The mechanisms of cell division and fertilisation|
|Notable awards||FRS, 1962 Knigthood, 1972, Peerage, 1981|
|Children||two sons, two daughters|
Michael Meredith Swann, Baron Swann, FRS FRSE (1 March 1920– 22 September 1990) was a distinguished molecular and cell biologist. He was appointed chairman of the BBC, awarded a knighthood and subsequently a life peerage.
Life and works
Swann studied at Cambridge where he went on to lecture in zoology. He served with the British Army during World War II, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1942, he marriead Tess Gleadowe. They had two sons and two daughters.
His academic work was on the mechanisms of cell division and fertilisation. He used cell polarisation methods to understand the changes in molecular organisation of the mitotic spindle. With his collaborator Murdoch Mitchison, he found evidence in support of a new theory of cell division. He also collaborated with Victor Rothschild in experiments on changes in membrane structure during fertilisation. He was appointed professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh in 1952 and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1962.
From 1965 to 1974, he was the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University. In 1968, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Leicester. During his term as Principal, he encountered difficulty with students led by Gordon Brown who had unusually been elected as Rector of the University. He was knighted in 1972.
He was chairman of the BBC from 1973 to 1980 having been appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, who admired his strong leadership during student protests at Edinburgh University. He was created a life peer in 1981 as Baron Swann, of Coln St Denys in the County of Gloucestershire on 16 February 1981. In 1980 Swann became Provost of Oriel College, and was also Chancellor of the University of York from 1979 until his death.
A portrait of Michael Meredith Swann, 1977 by Bernard Lee ('Bern') Schwartz can be found in the National Portrait Gallery.
The Michael Swann Building at the University of Edinburgh is named after him. It continues to be used for work on cell division and fertilisation to this day.
Brother-in-law of Monsignor Graham Leonard
Nephew to Brigadier Vivian Dykes Chief Combined Secretary British Joint Staff Mission Washington 1942
Stepson to Sir Sydney Castle Roberts Secretary of Cambridge University Press, author and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
- Mitchison, J. M. (1991). "Michael Meredith Swann Baron Swann of Coln Denys. March 1920-22 September 1990". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 37: 446–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1991.0023.
- University of York
- New York Times obituary
- University of Leicester
- Lady Tess Swann: Obituary, The Independent, 13 October 2009
- BBC Chairmen listing The BBC
- Heraldic Media Ltd., Patrick Cracoft-Brennan (Cracroft Peerage Database v5.2) 
- Who, Where and When: The History & Constitution of the University of Glasgow Oxford 
- Greg Dyke to be Chancellor of the University of York. Notes to Editors section. 
- National Portrait Gallery Michael Meredith Swann, Baron Swann
|Chairman of the BBC Board of Governors
Edward Victor Appleton
|Principals of the University of Edinburgh
Hugh Robson (educator)
|Chancellor of University of York