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Royal College honours Sir David MacMillan and Dr Susan Samueli at global conference

09 Feb 2024

At the same event, the Royal College celebrated the formal launch of its North American Committee, which has cemented its long-standing relationship with healthcare professionals. The College has a growing membership of more than 400 in North America.

A Nobel Prize-winning scientist and an international leader in health innovation have been awarded Honorary Fellowships from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Sir David MacMillan and Dr Susan Samueli were presented with their awards at the Global Blue Skies conference in California on Saturday (3 February) in recognition of their outstanding contributions to health and advancing medical science and technology.

At the same event, the Royal College celebrated the formal launch of its North American Committee, which has cemented its long-standing relationship with healthcare professionals. The College has a growing membership of more than 400 in North America.

The Honorary Fellowships were presented by Mike McKirdy, President of the Royal College. He said: “It is an honour and a pleasure to be here today with our esteemed colleagues in North America. Dr Samueli and Sir David represent the importance of continuous learning and dedication to achieve enormous impact in medical science. Their commitment to innovation is an inspiration to us all to keep seeking out new approaches to improve our practice and ultimately, the health of the global communities we serve.”

Sir David MacMillan won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2021, alongside Benjamin List, for their development of asymmetric organocatalysis – a new way of building molecules. The concept has been used to speed up the process of making medicines and has helped with the development of drugs for conditions including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, where he was also the chair of the Department of Chemistry from 2010 to 2015.

Upon receiving the Honorary Fellowship, Sir David said “It was a special moment to receive this honorary fellowship from the RCPSG.  To be inducted to join this historic college and community that represents excellence, innovation and care for humanity, is very meaningful to me. The values that RCPSG stand for and have brought to the world since 1599 were evident in this remarkable meeting that focused on the future of medicine and science.  I am proud to have become a member of the RCPSG and look to uphold their traditions and values as the college continues to provide benefit to humanity in the 21st century.”

Dr Susan Samueli is internationally-renowned for advancing integrative medicine, a comprehensive approach to care which considers a patient’s unique circumstances. This led her to form the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, in partnership with UC Irvine Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences, where she is an advisory board member. The Institute provides education, research and clinical care built around integrative practices that emphasizes whole-person healing and wellness.

Dr Samueli said, “The Global Blue Skies Conference represents an evolution in healthcare – researchers, physicians, surgeons, clinicians, and health and wellbeing enthusiasts, gathered to focus on making meaningful advancements in medicine and recognizing the importance of comprehensive, whole person care. It’s an honour to be here today and to be recognized as an honorary fellow.”

The ceremony took place during the flagship Global Blue Skies conference, a collaboration between the University of California Irvine (UCI) and the Royal College, to explore leading-edge health innovations and advanced technologies, including AI, robotics, virtual reality, and the operating rooms of the future, as well as wellness-based practices including diet, mindfulness and sleep.

Born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Sir David MacMillan attended Bellshill Academy and has credited his Scottish education and upbringing for his success. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Glasgow and in 1990, he left the UK to pursue his doctoral studies at UC Irvine and earned his PhD in 1996.

Upon receiving his PhD, he accepted a position at Harvard University, working with Professor David Evans, where his studies focused on enantioselective catalysis. He began his independent research career as a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in July 1998. He joined the department of chemistry at Caltech in 2000, where he continued to research innovative approaches to enantioselective catalysis.

Between 2010 and 2014, Professor MacMillan was the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Chemical Science, the flagship general chemistry journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. He holds Fellowships with both the Royal Society and Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2022, he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to chemistry.

Dr Susan Samueli was born and raised in Los Angles, and she received her B.A. degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1972. From 1972 to 1985 she was with IBM Corporation as a software programmer and subsequently as a Systems Engineer. After leaving the company in 1985 to focus on raising her children, Dr Samueli gained a keen interest in integrated health and received her PhD in nutrition from the American Holistic College of Nutrition in 1993 and a Diploma in Homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy in 1994.

In 1998 she and her husband Henry created the Samueli Foundation and to date they have generously supported a wide range of activity, which is helping to widen access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and support Integrative Health. In 2012 they joined the Giving Pledge, whose members pledge the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

She co-founded the Samueli Academy, an innovative public Charter Middle/High School in Santa Ana that focuses on project-based STEM learning for community, underserved and foster youth. She also serves on the Board of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation.

Category: College

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