A Dundee professor has become the first woman to be awarded a prestigious honour by Scotland’s national academy.

Professor Doreen Cantrell, from Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, has been awarded the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Sir James Black Medal for her pioneering cell signalling and immunology research.

Professor Cantrell is known as an international leader on cell signalling – the mechanisms that control the function of key immune cells – and has embraced technology to support her ground-breaking work.

She said: "I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of the amazing team of people that I work with in the School of Life Sciences.

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“The spirit of collaboration in Dundee and the inspirational work of my colleagues has allowed me to develop a program of work that has generated new insights about the molecular pathways that control the function of lymphocytes, key cells that control adaptive immune responses to viruses and cancer.

“I would also like to acknowledge the long-term support I have received from the Welcome Trust. They had the vision to support my move to Dundee more than 20 years ago and their continued support has made possible the discoveries that are being recognised.”

The University’s Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) was also presented with the Mary Somerville Medal which is awarded for teamwork and collaborative endeavours.

The RSE stated the DDU’s work, which has been published in the world’s leading journals, as bringing significant reputational benefit to both the University and Scotland.

The Drug Discovery Unit was also recognised by the RSE as having the largest academic drug discovery team in the world noting its multi-disciplinary, tightly coordinated, and large-scale translational research, and the real-world impact of its work.

The team have collaborated on work in neglected infectious diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, chagas disease, cryptosporidiosis and tuberculosis. Six compounds on which the DDU has worked have entered human clinical studies, and their work has helped to enable the formation of six spin-out companies and nine discoveries licenced to pharmaceutical companies.

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Professor Ian Gilbert, Head of the DDU, said: “I am incredibly proud of the unit and our achievements over the last 18 years. Our success is due to the skilful and dedicated team of scientists who work together in a highly integrated manner.

“We also would like to acknowledge a large group of collaborators from across the globe from academia, industry and product development partnerships and funding agencies. Drug discovery is an incredibly complex process, and these collaborations are vital for our work.”

Professor Sir John Ball, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh said:  “Nominated by RSE Fellows, the prestigious medals of the RSE recognise remarkable accomplishment.

"Working in diverse fields, this year's recipients join a distinguished cohort of trailblazers whose contributions advance our knowledge and positively impact lives worldwide. Their accomplishments underscore the depth and breadth of research talent in Scotland. I extend my warmest congratulations to all of them."