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Colin Thomson Medal 2011

Some of the world's leading scientists gathered in Glasgow to share expert knowledge and ideas which could help advance the fight against cancer.

The three-day Beatson International Cancer Conference, based mainly at Glasgow University, featured talks from world-class scientists and exhibitions on new developments in cancer research. One of Australia's most distinguished molecular biologists, Professor Suzanne Cory, gave the opening Colin Thomson Memorial Lecture at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research on Sunday 3rd July.

Professor Cory

Professor Cory

President of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Suzanne Cory's award-winning research has had a major impact in the fields of immunology and cancer. In recognition of that, she will be presented with the prestigious Colin Thomson Medal.

The late Dr Colin Thomson, a Reader in Theoretical Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, and a former President of the International Society for Quantum Biology, developed the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) from a tiny organisation literally run from his family's kitchen table, to a global charity recognised for its influence in progressing cancer research.

In 1984, AICR, which is one of the Beatson conference's co-sponsors, funded £50,000 of cancer research. Annual grants now total around £9 million, providing money for projects in 21 different countries from the charity's base in Madras House, St Andrews.

Sadly Dr Thomson died from multiple myeloma in November 1997. In his memory, a medal bearing his image was commissioned in 2007, for presentation to a scientist regarded as having made a notable contribution to research into cancer.

The first recipient was one of the world's leaders in the field, and an early AICR grant-holder, Sir David Lane.

Professor Cory's scientific achievements have attracted numerous honours and awards, including the Burnet Medal of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australia Prize (joint recipient), the Charles S. Mott Prize (joint recipient) of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation in 1998, a L'Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Award in 2001 and the Royal Medal of The Royal Society in 2002. She was Director of The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research from 1996 to 2009. 

She said: “"I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of the 2011 Colin Thomson Medal. The story of Dr Thomson’s personal commitment to cancer research through AICR is both inspiring and moving. I am very impressed that AICR is funding projects in 21 different countries, including Australia. AICR is making a real difference in the mission to understand the causes of cancer and treat them more effectively".

Dr Thomson's widow Maureen, who continues to serve on the board of AICR, presented the 2011 medal to Professor Cory before Sunday's lecture.


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