Professor Mike Ferguson, Dean of Research at the University of Dundee’s College of Life Sciences, received his CBE from The Queen in Edinburgh yesterday (Tuesday, 1 July).
Professor Ferguson, a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of London and the Academy of Medical Sciences, is a world-renowned specialist in the biochemistry of tropical diseases and was given the award in the New Year’s Honours List for Services to Science.
The presentation took place at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh at 11 am and was attended by his family, including his mother, Mrs Pamela Ferguson, who was awarded an MBE for services to the community in 2001.
Professor Ferguson said, “I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded a CBE for services to science. I am especially grateful to the great team of people I have the privilege to work with at The University of Dundee for making this possible.”
Professor Ferguson was one of the leading researchers who created the Drug Discovery Unit at The University in 2006.
“The Drug Discovery Unit brings together academic and industrial skills to ‘translate’ basic science into medicines”, he explained.
The Unit was set up with £15 million of funding in partnership with The Wellcome Trust and with help from The Wolfson Foundation, the Scottish Funding Council amongst others, principally to deliver new medicines for African sleeping sickness - a fatal disease transmitted by the tsetse fly in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Our program to produce a drug for clinical trials for sleeping sickness by 2011 is well on target, thanks to the incredibly talented team that has joined the fight”, said Professor Ferguson. “The success of the Unit means that we can also collaborate with other scientists to tackle other diseases as well. These are very exciting times.”
Professor Ferguson has published over 200 papers in the field of parasite biochemistry and molecular biology. He has been at the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee for the past twenty years, where he is also Dean of the School of Research. He has previously worked at Oxford University and at the Rockefeller University in New York. He received his first degree and PhD from the Universities of Manchester and London, respectively.
Speaking about his experiences in Dundee, he said, “It is a privilege to work in what has grown to be one of Europe’s premier biomedical research centres, to interact with such dedicated people and to have the opportunity to take basic ideas towards the clinic, particularly in the area of neglected tropical diseases where so much needs to be done”.
Professor Ferguson has had an interest in science from an early age. As he explains, “I always wanted to be a scientist - this was stimulated by browsing my father’s medical text books at home and by excellent science teachers at school. Being a scientist is a great job and hugely rewarding.”
He lives in Dundee with his wife and fellow scientist Dr Lucia Güther and their son John.