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Professor Bob Williamson
Professor Bob Williamson is a former Director of the Murdoch Childrens and is currently an Honorary Senior Principal Fellow (Professor). He has been honoured countless times for his work, primarily in the field of genetics and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and of the Royal Society, and an Officer of the Order of Australia.
Before coming to Australia, Professor Williamson was Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Developmental Biology at Glasgow University. He was then appointed Professor of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, University of London.
In 1995 the Board of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (then the Murdoch Institute) appointed Professor Williamson as Director, with a parallel appointment as Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Melbourne.
He retired in 2004, and since retiring has been the Secretary for Science Policy at the Australian Academy of Science.
More recently he has taken a major interest in national science policy and medical and scientific ethics, and had the privilege of advising several Premiers, Health Ministers and Ministers for Innovation.
Professor Williamson Chaired the OECD Committee on Pharmacogenetics and Regulation of Genetic Testing, and worked extensively for the World Health Organisation both before and after coming to Australia.
He has over 400 refereed career publications, of which about 45 are in Nature, Nature Genetics, Lancet and New England Journal. He has been a member of many editorial boards, including that of the Journal for Medical Ethics for the past twelve years, and edited several books on genetic engineering and on ethics and the new genetics.
He also hold appointments at the University of Melbourne and Monash University.
- 1999: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), London
- 1 January 2001: Award - Awarded the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and science in human molecular genetics
- 2001: Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
- 26 January 2004: Appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
Professor Williamson's focus is genetics research, and he is particularly passionate about cloning and sequencing processes that can be applied to solve medical problems.
Professor Williamson was involved in the identification and cloning of genes for thalassaemia, cystic fibrosis, Friedreich ataxia, craniofacial abnormalities, heart disease and Alzheimer disease.
The human genetics field has change dramatically over last few decades, from being a very rarefied field, genetics today is at the centre of virtually every new and projected medical advance.
The community knows about DNA, its application in clinical diagnosis and treatment, and its use in forensics. The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has been able to adapt, and continue developing, its skills to participate in these advances. The Institute now is more than a genetics institute, and this is as it should be, because the whole of child health will move forward more quickly if it can be researched as an integral and dynamic whole, with strong links to the University and the Hospital.