Royal Gold Medals for Outstanding Achievement

Royal Gold Medals for Outstanding Achievement

Media Information - 1 September 2004

Royal Gold Medals for Outstanding Achievement

The achievements of three individuals whose work has brought about public benefits on a global scale are to receive Royal recognition.  Royal Medals will be presented by The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s President, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood to: Professor Sir Philip Cohen, FRS, FRSE; Professor Sir Neil MacCormick, FRSE, FBA, QC; and Professor Robin Milner, FRS, FRSE at a ceremony to be held in The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) tomorrow (Thursday 2 September 2004).  The Medallists have been selected by the RSE, Scotland ’s National Academy , in recognition of intellectual endeavour which has had a profound influence on people’s lives, world-wide.  Designed and produced in Scotland and encompassing all intellectual disciplines, three prestigious gold medals are awarded through the RSE each year.

President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, KT, FBA, PRSE said:

In their respective fields of Life Sciences, Law and Computing Science, the Royal Medallists have excelled.  The impact of their commitment and achievement has transcended academic boundaries, effecting a profound influence on the lives of people in Scotland , the United Kingdom and internationally.  Recognising and celebrating excellence which is of public benefit, The Royal Medals capture the spirit of the RSE’s Royal Charter of 1783, ‘to promote the advancement of learning and useful knowledge’.  To Sir Philip Cohen, Sir Neil MacCormick and Professor Robin Milner, I offer my sincere congratulations.

The Royal Medallists:

Professor Sir Philip Cohen FRS, FRSE  for his outstanding contribution to Life Sciences.

Sir Philip’s discoveries in the role of protein phosphorylation and its deregulation in major diseases, particularly diabetes, have led to the development of a new scientific investigation and also to the development of new therapeutic drugs.  Philip Cohen was born in Middlesex in 1945. His first degree was from the University of London . He attained his doctorate in Biochemistry in 1969. Sir Philip went to the USA to work with Edmond Fischer and returned to the UK in 1971 to a lectureship in Biochemistry at the University of Dundee , becoming Reader in 1978 and receiving a Personal Chair in 1981. Sir Philip is a Royal Society of London Research Professor, Director of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit and the Wellcome Trust Biocentre, and Director of Research at the School of Life Sciences , University of Dundee.

At the University of Dundee Sir Philip Cohen has played a major part in the remarkable recent development of Life Sciences at the University. His enthusiasm, energy and influence have been crucial in the recruitment of many leading life scientists to Dundee and the establishment of the new Wellcome Trust Building and the associated Biocentre. His efforts have had a significant effect on the economy of Dundee , both in terms of direct employment at the Biocentre and in the establishment of industrial spin-offs.  In recognition of these contributions, Sir Philip was awarded the City of Discovery Rosebowl by Dundee District Council.  He is leading the construction of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, a new research building for the School of Life Sciences due to open in 2005.  Sir Philip has made, and continues to make, a major contribution to the Life Sciences in Scotland.

Professor Sir Neil MacCormick FRSE, FBA , QC  for his outstanding contribution to academic life in Scotland and internationally, particularly in the field of legal philosophy.

Neil MacCormick was born in 1941. Classical dux of Glasgow High School in 1959, he went to Glasgow University, obtaining a First Class Honours Degree in Philosophy and English Literature in 1963 and then to Balliol College Oxford, where he took a first in the Jurisprudence BA. He took up a lectureship in Jurisprudence at Queen’s College, Dundee, in 1965 returning to become a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford in 1967 before becoming Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations in the University of Edinburgh in 1972.  Sir Neil is one of the world’s leading philosophers of law. His central contribution to the scholarship of the philosophy of law has been the concept of law as “institutional fact”. Sir Neil has built upon and critically revised the work of the leading legal philosopher of the mid twentieth century, H L A Hart, but has also established his own reputation with five major books and numerous essays, notably on the legal theory of the Scottish Enlightenment; legal reasoning as a branch of practical reason; the theory of sovereignty in the context of the European Union, and on social democracy, liberalism and nationalism.

As a member of the recent Convention that drafted the proposed Constitutional Treaty for the European Union, he has had an opportunity to bring together theory and practice in an unusual way.  Sir Neil has a worldwide reputation and has received many academic and other honours, including most recently the rank of honorary QC, and a knighthood for services to scholarship in law. His boundless personal generosity has won him a host of friends and admirers everywhere, but he has never lost sight of, or touch with, Scotland in either academic or political terms. He is one of the most distinguished Scots of his generation.

Professor Robin Milner FRS, FRSE for his outstanding contributions to software engineering which have changed the face of modern computer science.

Robin Milner was born in 1934 into a military family. In 1947 he won a scholarship to Eton College and after military service in the Royal Engineers went to King’s College, Cambridge in 1954. After graduating with Honours after two years he became a mathematics teacher at Marylebone Grammar School . In 1960 he moved to Ferranti in London , looking after the program library of a small decimal computer called Sirius. In 1963 he took up a lectureship in mathematics and computer science at The City University where he became interested in artificial intelligence, the semantics of programs and mathematical logic.  In 1968 Professor Milner moved to Swansea University , to Stanford University three years later and in 1973 returned to a lectureship at the University of Edinburgh , obtaining a Personal Chair in 1984. In 1995 he took up the first established Chair at Cambridge.

His first major contribution to computer science was to invent the notion of a proof assistant whereby one could give the computer the structure of the proof via so-called tactics, and have it carry out the details.  His Calculus of Communicating Systems (CCS) was one of the first to demonstrate the power of a small formalism tuned to a particular area, in contrast to a large mathematically unwieldy programming language. His next major contribution was pi-calculus, a language which has been extremely influential in the scientific study of mobile computation and has also found numerous applications e.g. in languages for the worldwide web and for computer security protocols. He is the fourth most cited author in computing science according to the NEC citation index.  Robin Milner is one of the world’s leading computer scientists, developing and applying mathematical logic. His contributions to computer science have been enormous.

The Royal Medals

The distinguished designer and engraver Malcolm Appleby of Grandtully near Aberfeldy has designed and created the Royal Medals.  Mr Appleby’s work has been exhibited in many of the world’s most prestigious museums and galleries.  His commissions include engraving work on an orb for His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ coronet, and pieces for The Royal Armouries, The Victoria & Albert Museum , and National Museums of Scotland .  As the Royal Medals recognise outstanding achievement in all intellectual fields, it was decided to unify them by commissioning one design for all three medals.

Notes for News & Features Editors & Pictures Editors:

1 .jpgs of the President of the RSE, the Medallists and the Medals are available from the Society.  An electronic copy of a group photograph of The Society’s President, and the three Medallists may be available from the RSE on the evening of September 2 by arrangement with the RSE.

2 This top accolade is open to all men and women who have achieved international excellence in any field of intellectual endeavour.  Medallists should preferably have a Scottish connection, but do not need to reside in Scotland , or be RSE Fellows.

3 The Royal Medals were presented for the first time in July 2000, when Her Majesty The Queen awarded them, in person, at The Royal Society of Edinburgh to:

Professor Sir Kenneth Murray, FRS, FRSE for his groundbreaking work in developing a vaccine for Hepatitis B, improving healthcare world-wide.

Professor Peter Higgs, FRS, FRSE for offering a key to the problem of the origin of Mass.   The Higgs boson has been a crucial step towards a unified theory of the forces of Nature.

The Rt Hon The Lord Perry of Walton, OBE, FRS, FRSE  for his outstanding career in science and education, and for his pioneering work in developing the Open University, which has been a model for similar institutions around the world.  Lord Perry died in 2003.

In 2001 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh presented Royal Medals in The Palace of Holyroodhouse to:

Professor Sir James Black, OM , FRS, Hon FRSE, for his discovery & development of two blockbuster drugs: the renowned “β-blocker” drugs, notably propanolol, which changed cardiovascular therapeutics beyond recognition and cimetidine, which profoundly improved the therapy of the peptic ulcer with cimetidine.

Professor Tom Devine, FRSE, Hon MRIA, FBA for his distinguished and highly-acclaimed work on Irish and Scottish economic and social history which impacted upon the “peace process”.

Professor Ian Scott, FRS, FRSE for his revolutionary work on the way in which vitamin B12, the essential life pigments chlorophyll and heme, and the important anti-tumour agent taxol, are produced.

In 2002 HRH The Princess Royal presented Royal Medals at a Jubilee Dinner ceremony held in the Signet Library to:

Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri FRSE, for his outstanding contribution to the practice of medicine and pioneering developments in minimal access or ‘keyhole’ surgery.

Professor John R Mallard OBE FRSE, for his outstanding, pioneering work in the field of medical imaging and diagnosis; developing two of the most important diagnostic technologies of the 20th century, namely Nuclear Medicine and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI).

Professor Sir Alan Peacock DSC FBA FRSE, for his outstanding contribution to Social Science and Public Policy; having achieved international distinction on a range of fiscal issues where he has enhanced our understanding of key problems in both taxation and public expenditure.

In 2003 HRH The Duke of Edinburgh presented Royal Medals in The Royal Society of Edinburgh to:

Sir Michael Atiyah OM, PPRS, HonFRSE, for his profound and beneficial effect on the development of mathematics and science in the UK and Europe.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT, PC, QC, FRSE, for his outstanding contributions to Scots Law and public service, both within the UK and internationally.

Professor Sir Paul Nurse FRS, HonFRSE, for his outstanding contribution to genetics research, in particular its relevance to cancer, in which he has become a leading figure nationally and internationally.


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