RVC’s Webster ‘honoured’ to receive prized Leeuwenhoek Medal
5 Sep 2023
Professor of Parasitic Diseases at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Joanne Webster has been awarded the Royal Society’s prestigious Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture, which recognises and celebrates outstanding contributions to science.
The award cited her ‘achievements in advancing control of disease in humans and animals which are caused by parasites in Asia and Africa’.
The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the world’s oldest existing scientific while Professor Webster will be only the second female to receive the medal since its inauguration in 1950. This year also marks the 300th anniversary year of the great Dutch scientist’s death.
Alongside her role as Professor of Parasitic Diseases, Professor Webster heads the RVC’s Pathogen Flow in Ecosystems strategic grouping, is Director of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research (LCNTDR) and is Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London's Faculty of Medicine.
During her career, Webster served as the co-Director of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCIwhen the organisation provided approximately 300 million anthelminthic preventative chemotherapeutic treatments for children and at-risk adults across sub-Saharan Africa.
Webster is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Fauna and Flora International, an Expert Advisor on a number of the World Health Organization’s panels and is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Alongside this, Professor Webstersits on several funding Review Board committees and expert panel groups, including for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Wellcome Trust.
She said: “I am so utterly delighted and honoured to receive this medal from the Royal Society, the prestigious and oldest continuing scientific academy in the world.
“I’m especially touched as this medal is in recognition of the achievements of Antony van Leeuwenhoek who, from a humble background, through his passion to drive microscopic research and discovery, revealed for the first time so much of the beauty and complexity of nature - revelations comparable to, but not overtaken by, the genomics tools available today. We need all these tools, old and new, to meet our global commitment to protect and improve the health of humans and animals today.”
Professor Oliver Pybus, Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) at the RVC, said the organisation was proud of Webster’s achievements in infectious disease research and the medal recognised her significant contributions to the field.”
Webster has previously won the Queen’s Anniversary Medal for International Public Health Impact (jointly with SCI) in 2008, plus the CA Wright Memorial Medal in 2005’, the The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Chalmers Memorial Medal in 2013, inclusion in an International Woman’s Day List of ‘Five Inspirational Women Shaping the Future of International Development’ in 2019 and the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021.
The Leeuwenhoek Lecture will be presented at The Royal Society towards the end of 2023.