Dundee life scientist working to eliminate disease knighted

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An eminent life scientist has said he is “thrilled” to receive a knighthood.

Professor Mike Ferguson, regius professor of life sciences at the University of Dundee, is knighted for services to science in the New Year Honours.

The university said Prof Ferguson is one of the UK’s most eminent life scientists, and he helped build the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) in the university’s School of Life Sciences.

The DDU has attracted more than £75 million of investment and works with international health agencies and pharmaceutical companies to combat illnesses such as Chagas disease and tuberculosis, including developing an anti-malarial drug now in human trials.

In 2012 he became a director of Medicines for Malaria Venture, supporting its mission to eliminate malaria, and recently he contributed to the establishment of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research.

Prof Ferguson said: “I am thrilled to receive this great honour, but minded immediately that it recognises the efforts of many at the University of Dundee – my home for 30 years and an institution where collaboration and co-operation are truly valued, and where advancing knowledge into solutions is highly-prized.

“Together we have managed to build in Dundee a truly world-class environment for science, and I feel very privileged to have been able to contribute to that.

“I am particularly grateful to my life – and science – partner Dr Lucia Guther, and my family for support of every kind.”

Prof Ferguson was appointed a governor of the Wellcome Trust in 2012 and became deputy chairman in 2017.

The university said his collaboration with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics led to a new rapid diagnostic test for human trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) that should contribute to disease elimination.

He has also supported new start-up businesses helping to drive the economic future of the Dundee city region, and co-led a successful bid in the Tay Cities Deal to grow the Tayside Biomedical Cluster.

Professor Sir Pete Downes, principal of the University of Dundee, said: “This is a richly deserved honour for Mike, who has made a tremendous contribution to our understanding of major diseases.

“Very few of the world’s top scientists translate the fruits of their own research to deliver impact which transforms lives.

“Mike Ferguson has done more than that – he has created a sector-leading drug discovery unit developing new treatments for some of the world’s most neglected diseases.”

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