Accolade for academic

Monday 21 November 2016

Accolade for academic mb

Professor James Naismith FRS of the University of St Andrews has been elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition for his “sustained and distinguished contributions to the structural and functional analysis of enzymes”.

Professor Naismith, currently Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC), is a structural biologist and expert in developing new approaches to combat drug resistant bacteria.

Although most bacterial infections are treatable today, there is serious concern that they could again become a significant public health problem, unless research yields new ways of tackling the increasing number of drug resistant strains. Professor Naismith’s work applies understanding of the structure and mechanism of proteins to the development of new anti-bacterial therapies.

On his election to AAAS, Professor Naismith said: “I am very honoured to be elected to fellowship of the AAAS, a body that at its core holds that ‘science, technology, engineering and mathematics can help solve many of the challenges the world faces’.

“I believe that science has never been more exciting to be part of, more important to humanity and yet more neglected in public life than now. I am delighted that the work of my group past and present has been recognised by American scientists; it’s a testament to my co-workers ingenuity and hard work.”

St Andrews Vice-Principal for Research, Professor Derek Woolins, said: “It is always a joy for us to celebrate the accomplishments of our outstanding researchers, and more so when their valuable contributions are recognised by colleagues from around the world. All of us at St Andrews offer our warmest congratulations to Professor Naismith on this honour.”

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society. The international non-profit organisation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

Notes to news editors

The AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research through its Science family of journals. The AAAS has individual members in more than 91 countries around the globe. Membership is open to anyone who shares the organisation’s goals and beliefs. A member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished and who has been a continuous member for the four year period leading up to the year of nomination, may, by virtue of such meritorious contribution, be elected a Fellow by the Council.

Examples of areas in which nominees may have made significant contributions are research; teaching; technology; services to professional societies; administration in academia, industry and government; and communicating and interpreting science to the public.

James Naismith was born and raised in Hamilton in the west of Scotland, where he went to local state schools Low Waters Primary and Hamilton Grammar. He is a graduate of the universities of Edinburgh (BSc Chemistry, 1989) and Manchester (PhD Structural Biology, 1992). He was appointed to St Andrews in June 1994 and started work in January 1995. He had previously been working as a NATO post-doctoral fellow in the Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, Texas. Professor Naismith is an elected member of the University Court and holds the Chair of Chemical Biology in the School of Chemistry which is part of EaStChem. He became Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) in 2009 and is a fellow of both the Society of Biology and Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor Naismith’s other academic achievements include a Carnegie PhD Scholarship, NATO post-doctoral fellowship, BBSRC Career Development Fellowship, Colworth Medal, Corday Morgan Medal, Leverhulme Prize, Carbohydrate Medal, Jeremy Knowles Medal and Cornforth Medal (joint). He has been elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to membership of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and to Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 2014.

The BSRC at the University of St Andrews is an interdisciplinary initiative that brings together Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Biology in a set of purpose built interconnected buildings. The BSRC currently secures over 20% of the University’s external peer reviewed funding for research.

Professor Naismith is available for interview by contacting the Press Office.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews. Contact by phone on 01334 462530 or email at [email protected].

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