Leading Australian developmental biologist Professor Richard Harvey this week joins scientific luminaries such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Howard Florey and Stephen Hawking as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the oldest continuously operating academy of science in the world.
Since its inception in 1600, the Royal Society and its Fellows have played a part in some of the most significant and life-changing discoveries in scientific history such as publishing Newton’s laws of gravity, backing James Cook’s expedition to track the Transit of Venus and Benjamin Franklin’s experiment demonstrating the electrical nature of lightning.
The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists who have worked in the UK and the Commonwealth. There are currently only ~1600 Fellows, including 61 Australians.
Commenting on Professor Harvey’s achievement, Stem Cells Australia’s Program Leader and Chair of Stem Cell Science at The University of Melbourne Professor Martin Pera said, “In bestowing this highly prestigious honour, the Royal Society have acknowledged Professor Harvey’s seminal contributions to the molecular understanding of heart development where his discovery of Nkx2-5 overturned previous dogma concerning the evolution and embryology of the heart, and has led to the identification of new regulatory networks in cardiac development and their role in disease.”
Having initially trained in molecular biology and embryology, Professor Harvey joined the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI) in 1998 where he is currently Co-Deputy Director and Head of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Chief Investigator and Cardiac Theme leader in the Stem Cells Australia consortium.
Over the last decade, Professor Harvey has explore the role of stem cells in the heart and specifically the isolation of novel cardiac progenitor cells and the discovery of new pathways of cardiac regeneration.
Professor Pera went on to say, “We warmly congratulate Richard on this very special award. He joins a very elite circle of Australian researchers who have attained this honour including Frank Macfarlane Burnet, Howard Florey, Robert May, our Scientific Advisory Board member Patrick Tam and other great scientists.”
Also congratulating Professor Harvey was Professor Robert Graham, VCCRI Director and Stem Cells Australia member, “Richard sets a tone of scientific excellence that is the hallmark of the Institute’s work. About 700 people were considered at the last intake and only 50 were elected to the Fellowship. We all at the Institute are immensely proud of his achievements.”
In addition to Richard, the 50 new Fellows just elected to the Royal Society, include: Prof Brian Cox (particle physicist and science communicator), Prof Marcus du Sautory (Mathematic Institute, Oxford, and presenter of the BBC series: The Story of Mathematics), Lord Adair Turner, Chairman of New Economic Thinking, and Prof Jennifer Doudna – discoverer of CRISPR- Cas9 gene editing technology, which has revolutionised biomedical sciences and for which it is predicted she will receive the Nobel Prize.
The Royal Society is dedicated to recognising excellence in science, furthering the role of science, engineering and technology and promoting science and its benefits for humanity. More information about the Royal Society and the new Fellows can be found at royalsociety.org.
Stem Cells Australia is an Australian Research Council funded Special Research Initiative, bringing together Australia’s premier life scientists to address the big questions in stem cell science. Stem Cells Australia was established in 2011 by The University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Monash University, University of NSW, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
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