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ICR’s Chief Executive Elected Fellow of the Royal Society


Friday 21 May 2010


The Institute of Cancer Research’s Chief Executive Professor Peter Rigby has been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society, the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon a UK scientist.


The Royal Society is the national academy of science of the UK and Commonwealth, and election to its Fellowship recognises outstanding scientific contribution. Each year, 44 new Fellows are elected through a rigorous peer-review process that culminates in a vote by existing Fellows.


Professor Rigby has been Chief Executive since 1999 and has led the ICR to become one of the UK’s leading academic research centres. He is also Professor of Developmental Biology and heads the ICR’s Section of Gene Function and Regulation and the Molecular Embryology Team within that section. His own research interests are in the molecular biology of vertebrate development, especially gene regulation.


Prior to joining the ICR, Professor Rigby was Head of the Division of Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) for thirteen years. His pioneering research at the NIMR included advancing the understanding of how muscles are formed and how the structures of an organism come to be located in their proper position.


Professor Rigby is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Non-Executive Director of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and a member of the Board of Governors of the Wellcome Trust.


The Royal Society commended Professor Rigby for making “several discoveries in oncogenesis and vertebrate development which have had major impact on thinking in these fields”.


Professor Rigby says: “I am very honoured to have received this ultimate acknowledgment from my peer group. I hope it will also be seen as recognition of the important contributions made over many years by my talented students, postdoctoral researchers and colleagues.”


Lord Ryder, Chairman of the ICR, says: “I am delighted about Professor Peter Rigby’s election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and congratulate him on behalf of the Board and staff of the ICR. The significance of this honour reflects on the respect in which Professor Rigby is held within the wider scientific community.  It is also an honour for the ICR that it is led by a scientist whose talents and achievements are admired in full measure by the Royal Society.”


The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, and has been at the forefront of enquiry and discovery since its foundation in 1660 – 350 years ago this year.


President of the Royal Society Martin Rees says: “I am delighted to welcome these new Fellows to the Royal Society in what is a hugely important year for us. These scientists follow in the footsteps of early Fellows such as Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. The new Fellows announced today embody the spirit of enquiry, dedicated to ‘the relief of man’s estate’ on which the Royal Society was founded.  That spirit is as alive today as it was 350 years ago.”


The Fellowship is composed of over 1,300 of the most distinguished scientists from the UK, including Stephen Hawking, John Sulston and five other ICR scientists: Professors Alan Ashworth, Michael Stratton, David Barford, Chris Marshall and Mel Greaves.


Media contact: Science Press Officer Jane Bunce on 0207 153 5106


Notes to Editors:

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)

  • The ICR is Europe’s leading cancer research centre
  • The ICR has been ranked the UK’s top academic research centre, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise
  • The ICR works closely with partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to ensure patients immediately benefit from new research. Together the two organisations form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe
  • The ICR has charitable status and relies on voluntary income, spending 95 pence in every pound of total income directly on research
  • As a college of the University of London, the ICR also provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction
  • Over its 100-year history, the ICR’s achievements include identifying the potential link between smoking and lung cancer which was subsequently confirmed, discovering that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer and isolating more cancer-related genes than any other organisation in the world
  • The ICR is home to the world’s leading academic cancer drug development team. Several important anti-cancer drugs used worldwide were synthesised at the ICR and it has discovered an average of two preclinical candidates each year over the past five years

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