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Humble Aussie scientist joins Einstein, Newton and Darwin as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London

World leading developmental biologist, Professor Richard Harvey, joins scientific luminaries such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Howard Florey and Stephen Hawking as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the oldest continuously operating academy of science in the world.

Since its inception in 1600, the Royal Society has played a part in some of the most significant and life-changing discoveries in scientific history, such as publishing Newton’s laws of gravity, and Benjamin Franklin’s experiment demonstrating the electrical nature of lightning, as well as backing James Cook’s expedition to Australia.

To be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society is undoubtedly one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a scientist. With that said, we can expect great things from the only two Australians handpicked to join this exclusive society in 2016. To say it’s a proud moment for Professor Richard Harvey from the Victor Chang Institute, is an understatement.

“This is an unbelievable honour. I am really quite overwhelmed by it all,” Professor Harvey revealed.

A master of developmental biology, Professor Harvey is responsible for discovering the gene which regulates how the heart develops. This vital breakthrough also revealed a major cause of congenital heart disease in children.

Professor Harvey is also a world leader in stem cell research and cardiac regeneration, and his current work is aimed at limiting the damage to the heart after a heart attack, which could help the 45,000 Australians who suffer a heart attack each year.

Executive Director of the Victor Chang Institute, Professor Bob Graham is utterly thrilled for his long-time friend and colleague.

“Richard sets a tone of scientific excellence that is the hallmark of the work at the Victor Chang Institute. About 700 people were considered at the last intake and only 50 were elected to Fellowship from across the entire Commonwealth. All of us at the Victor Chang Institute are immensely proud of his achievements.”

One of the first scientists to join the Victor Chang Institute almost two decades ago, Professor Harvey is the Co-Deputy Director and Head of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division and Sir Peter Finley Professor of Heart Research, University of New South Wales. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and a Chief Investigator of the ARC consortium, Stem Cells Australia.

Also commenting on Professor Harvey’s achievement is Stem Cells Australia’s Program Leader, Professor Martin Pera.

“In bestowing this highly prestigious honour, the Royal Society has acknowledged Professor Harvey’s seminal contributions to the molecular understanding of heart development. His discoveries overturned previous dogma concerning the evolution of the heart, and has led to the identification of new regulatory networks in cardiac development,” said Professor Pera.
Professor Harvey has published over 170 peer-reviewed articles, with over 11,000 citations to date. He has also co-edited what are arguably the foremost textbooks in the field of heart development today.

The Royal Society is dedicated to recognising excellence in science, furthering the role of science, engineering and technology and promoting science and its benefits for humanity. The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from across the UK and the Commonwealth. There are currently only ~1600 Fellows, including just 61 Australians. royalsociety.org

Stem Cell Biology Laboratory

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