University of Dundee

Professor Mike Ferguson named first Regius Professor in Life Sciences at Dundee

29 Jan 2013

The Queen announces new Regius Professorship for Dundee

The Government today announced twelve university departments that are deemed to be outstanding – including Life Sciences at the University of Dundee - are to have the prestigious title of Regius Professor bestowed upon them by The Queen to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

Professor Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, said, “I am delighted by today’s announcement. The award of a Regius Professorship to Dundee is a tremendous affirmation of our world-class standing in Life Sciences.

“I am equally delighted to announce that the first Regius Professor in Life Sciences at the University of Dundee will be Professor Mike Ferguson CBE, FRS, FRSE.

“The leadership and expertise of established scientists who have achieved global acclaim in Life Sciences at Dundee includes 10 Fellows of The Royal Society and 27 Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. We now add to that a Regius Professorship.

“We also have a strong cohort of dynamic young scientists and rising stars in their fields, who will help carry the excellence of Life Sciences at Dundee into the future.”

Professor Mike Ferguson is Dean of Research in the College of Life Sciences at Dundee. Professor Ferguson has dedicated his research to studying the biochemistry of parasites that cause human tropical diseases and is a world-renowned expert in his field.

Together with his colleagues, he has been instrumental in establishing the Drug Discovery Unit and the new Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research. He is also a member of the Wellcome Trust Board of Governors.

Mike said "This is a great accolade for Life Sciences at Dundee - to all those who have built it up to what it is today and to those who will sustain it in the future. I am hugely honoured to be the first person to hold this prestigious title on behalf of the University and The College of Life Sciences. I would like to emphasise that this is recognition is for all of us in CLS, and not an individual award."

A Regius Professorship is a rare privilege, with only two created in the past century. It is a reflection of the exceptionally high quality of teaching and research at an institution. Each institution will assign the title to an existing Professor at the chosen Department or will appoint a new Professor to take the Chair and hold the title.

The Queen will bestow the awards after taking advice from Ministers, who were in turn advised by a panel of eminent academics led by Sir Graeme Davies, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of London.

When universities were invited to apply, six new Regius Professorships had been planned. However, the twelve winning submissions were judged by the panel to have been of exceptionally high quality and Ministers and The Queen agreed that twelve should be awarded.

The new posts of Regius Professor are:

  • University of Dundee – Life Sciences
  • Imperial College, London – Engineering
  • London School of Economics and Political Science – Economics
  • The Open University – Open Education
  • University of Manchester – Physics
  • Royal Holloway, University of London – Music
  • University of Essex – Political Science
  • King’s College London – Psychiatry
  • University of Reading – Meteorology and Climate Science
  • University of Southampton – Computer Science
  • University of Surrey – Electronic Engineering
  • University of Warwick – Mathematics

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said, “I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and am delighted that twelve new Regius Professorships are to be created. Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.

“It is testament to the quality and strength of our higher education sector that so many universities were considered worthy of such a distinguished honour.”

Chloe Smith, the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said, “I have been bowled over by the response from universities. The submissions we received were incredibly strong, which is why we advised The Queen to create twice as many Regius Professorships than originally planned.

“The twelve institutions can consider themselves truly deserving of this great honour.”

In the past, RegiusProfessorships were created when a university chair was founded or endowed by a Royal patron. Before today, they were limited to a handful of the ancient universities of the United Kingdom and Ireland, namely Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Trinity College, Dublin.

The title of Regius Professor has notably been held by the late historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and the 18th century poet Thomas Gray, who was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.

The creation of RegiusProfessorships falls under the Royal Prerogative, and each appointment is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice. Only two others have been awarded in the last century, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin in 2009. Before then, the most recent RegiusProfessorship was created by Queen Victoria.