Businessman, scientists, actor and architect honoured as University marks its Foundation Day

Scientist and businessman, Dr Gerald Chan delivered The University of Manchester’s prestigious annual Foundation Day lecture yesterday. He was then awarded an honorary doctorate along with scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and CNR Rao, architect Rachel Haugh and actor Sarah Lancashire.

Dr Chan chose the subject of ‘Biotechnology and the Conflation of Science, Business and Ethics’ for his speech and told the audience in the University’s Whitworth Hall how his work as an investor and scientist has made him reflect on the limitless possibilities of science and medicine and how this interacts with economics and ethics and the ways in which we make decisions about funding our healthcare.

The speech was the centrepiece of the Foundation Day, which the University holds each year to mark the bringing together of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 2004.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester, said: "This year's five honorary graduates share with the University a fundamental commitment to improving lives through science, medicine, industry, the built environment and the creative arts.

"Foundation Day marks an important annual milestone in our history and highlights our identity as a global institution anchored in the city of Manchester. We are delighted to award these honorary doctorates to such inspirational individuals on this special day."

This year honorary doctorates were awarded to the following:

Dr Gerald Chan is the co-founder of Morningside, a private investment group with venture capital, private equity and property investments. He has led the start-up of many biotechnology companies, enabling pioneering technologies in oncology, infectious disease and many other areas.

In addition to industrial companies and property, he invested in many of China’s internet companies. Some of these have joined the ranks of the largest companies in China such as the mobile phone company Xiaomi.

Dr Chan is a member of Harvard University’s Global Advisory Council, the Dean's Board of Advisors of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard China Fund. He chairs the Innovation Advisory Committee of the Wellcome Trust in the UK and the Overseers Committee of the Morningside College of Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He received his BS and MS degrees in engineering from UCLA, his Master's degree in medical radiological physics and Doctor of Science degree in radiation biology from Harvard University. He received his post-doctoral training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.

In 2013, he was elected to an honorary fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford University. In 2017, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Widely recognised for her innovative research that laid the foundation for the ground-breaking CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering technology, Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier is founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Scientific Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology and Honorary Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin.

Previously she was Alexander von Humboldt Professor and Head of Department at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and Professor at the Hannover Medical School, Germany, Associate and Visiting Professor at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (EMBL Partnership), Umeå University, and Assistant and Associate Professor at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna. She has also held several research associate positions in the US.

Professor Charpentier received her education in microbiology, biochemistry and genetics from the University Pierre and Marie Curie and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. She has received prestigious international awards and distinctions and is an elected member of national and international academies. She is co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics and ERS Genomics.

After graduating from the University of Bath, architect Rachel Haugh returned to the northwest, co-founding SimpsonHaugh in 1987. Inspired by the belief in the power of high quality design to lead to the regeneration of post-industrial cities and a passionate advocate for her home city, Rachel has played an integral role in building the practice‘s strong portfolio and reputation as leading urban and civic architects.

Having spearheaded the masterplan for the rebuilding of the city centre after the 1996 IRA bomb, notable Manchester projects include Urbis (The National Football Museum), No 1 Deansgate, Beetham Hilton Tower, the Town Hall Extension, Two St Peter’s Square and No 1 Spinningfields and in London, Battersea Power Station, and One Blackfriars. Internationally, Queen Elisabeth Hall, a new world-class and acoustically exemplary concert hall in Antwerp, has recently completed.

Rachel was a finalist for the AJ Women in Architecture, Architect of the Year Award 2015, is a key representative for the Women in Architecture (WIA) campaign, an Age Friendly Manchester Ambassador and a member of the London Legacy Development Corporation Quality Review Panel.

Sarah Lancashire was born in Manchester and trained as an actress at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Sarah was awarded a Guildhall Fellowship in 2010.

She has received numerous industry awards both here and abroad in recognition of her work across television, theatre and film. Her 33 year career has taken her from the Library Theatre in Manchester via the West End in London, along a certain cobbled ‘Street’ in Weatherfield and onto countless other dramatic landscapes.

Her most recent credits include ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ and the internationally acclaimed ‘Happy Valley’ both of which gained her awards from BAFTA and The Royal Television Society. She was awarded an OBE in 2017 for Services to Drama.

Professor CNR Rao research interests are mainly in the chemistry of materials. He obtained his PhD degree from Purdue University (1958) and DSc degree from the University of Mysore (1961). He is Linus Pauling Research Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and Honorary Professor at the Indian Institute of Science (both at Bangalore).

He is a fellow of the Royal Society, London, foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and a member of the Japan, French and Russian as well as other science academies. He is the recipient of the Einstein Gold Medal of UNESCO, the Hughes and Royal Medals of the Royal Society, the August Wilhelm von Hofmann medal of the German Chemical Society, the Dan David Prize and Trieste Science Prize for materials research and the first India Science Prize. He was conferred the von Hippel award by the Materials Research Society in 2017. He has published 1,600 research papers; authored and edited 52 books. He is the recipient of Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour of India.

In keeping with Dr Chan's speech, a video about the University's work in Industrial Biotechnology was also shown.

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