Her Majesty The Queen is to honour the achievements of three Scots whose work has brought about public benefits on a global scale. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will present Royal Medals to Professor Sir James Black, Professor Tom Devine and Professor Ian Scott at a ceremony to be held in the Palace of Holyroodhouse on July 4, 2001. The Medallists have been selected by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (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, eighteen carat gold medals are awarded through the RSE each year.
President of the RSE, Sir William Stewart said:
Her Majesty, our Patron, honours us greatly in naming these distinguished Scots as recipients of the prestigious Royal Medals for 2001. We are also much honoured that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has agreed to present the Royal Medals at Holyroodhouse. Through outstanding scholarship, each of the Medallists has had a profound influence on the lives of people in Scotland and far beyond. Scotland has a proud heritage of achievement, discovery and enterprise. The Royal Medals capture the spirit of the RSE’s Royal Charter of 1783, ‘to promote the advancement of learning and useful knowledge’. They reflect the way in which, as a progressive, Scottish Society, working as part of the UK, and within a global context, the Fellowship is helping to meet the challenges of the Twenty First Century.
The work of Professor Sir James Black, one of the United Kingdom’s most distinguished Scientists, has benefited untold numbers of patients throughout the world. Responsible for fundamental advances in pharmacology, his discovery of highly effective drugs has revolutionised the treatment of disease. His achievements are unique, as no one else in the pharmaceutical industry can claim discovery of two blockbuster drugs in such different fields. Sir James is most noted for his development of the renowned “b-blocker” drugs, notably propanolol, which changed cardiovascular therapeutics beyond recognition. He also profoundly improved the therapy of the peptic ulcer with cimetidine, which selectively blocks the effects of histamine on the stomach and heart with minimal toxicity. Sir James is one Nobel Laureate whose research has had a very direct effect on human health worldwide.
Professor Tom Devine whose work receives international acclaim, is one of the most prominent and distinguished practitioners of Irish and Scottish economic and social history working in the United Kingdom today. Tom Devine has also been a leading figure in the comparative history of Irish and Scottish economic development, through a prolific series of publications and by means of influential conferences. He is Director of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at Aberdeen University, where he is pursuing an academic agenda of multidisciplinary and comparative study of the economic, political and cultural forces that have helped to shape Scotland and Ireland. The importance of this work, not least for the stalled "peace process", has been recognised by the Irish Government, in the inauguration of the Institute by the President of Ireland on St Andrew’s Day 1999, and also by the Taoiseach’s office agreeing to fund the Annual Irish-Scottish Forum, which was addressed by the acting First Minister of the Scottish Executive in June 2000. Tom Devine’s seminal work "The Scottish Nation" was serialised in "The Herald", bringing the findings of key recent Scottish historical research to the attention of a broad readership. In so doing, Tom Devine has promoted an intelligent and reflective understanding of the forces that have shaped Scotland over the past three hundred years.
Professor Ian Scott is a world leader in his field and the impact of his discoveries is likely to shape the development of natural product chemistry into the future. Professor Scott has revolutionised our understanding of the way in which vitamin B12, the essential life pigments chlorophyll and heme, and the important anti-tumour agent taxol, are produced. Over the past thirty years, he has made outstanding contributions to organic and natural product chemistry. His many achievements include the design of experiments to uncover the mechanisms leading to the production of antibiotics, plant alkaloids and vitamin B12 . He has also made a number of unparalleled discoveries in the area of biological nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), which have revolutionised both practice and theory in this field. As a result of his work, it is now possible to study the control of metabolism at the molecular level in living cells and tissues by direct, noninvasive spectroscopy, to devise extremely sensitive probes of enzyme-substrate interactions and to discover short-lived, air-sensitive intermediates in biosynthetic pathways at the microgram level. Nature typified international regard for Ian Scott’s work with the statement: "Such is the stuff of dreams and future promise for those who make natural products through total chemical synthesis."
I (Nature [supplement] 1996, 384, 12) by G.L. Verdine (Harvard).
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 a Skirted Cup, presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth TheQueen Mother, 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:
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.
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.