Honorary doctorates awarded by Karolinska Institutet 2006The Board of Research at Karolinska Institutet has awarded honorary doctorates of medicine to Robert G. Edwards, England; previous president of The Swedish Trade Union Confederation Bertil Jonsson, Sweden; and Dr. Philip Yeo, Singapore. The degrees are awarded to persons who have promoted by their actions activities carried out at the university. The conferment ceremony will take place in Stockholm City Hall on 12 May, 2006. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first doctoral conferment ceremony at Karolinska Institutet, making this year's ceremony particularly noteworthy.
Robert G. Edwards, professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge is awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine. He is honoured for his major contributions to research in the field of infertility and in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF is considered to be one of the major medical discoveries of the 20th century, and it is without comparison the most successful treatment for infertility. Before the use of the IVF technique, only 30% of infertile couples could be helped. That fraction has today risen to 90%. Research into IVF has also made significant contributions to medical knowledge concerning fertility, and concerning early foetal development and diagnostic techniques.
Professor Edwards was born in Leeds, England, in 1925. He started his research career in the early 1950s, studying mouse embryonic chromosomes at the University of Edinburgh. He moved to Cambridge in the 1960s, where he developed a technique for fertilisation outside of the body. The first baby born with the aid of IVF was born in 1978, and the treatment spread rapidly throughout the world. It is estimated that more than 2 million longed-for children have been born with the use of IVF.
Bertil Jonsson, previous president of The Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO-Sweden), is awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine. He is honoured for his long commitment to research concerning the workplace environment and health. Bertil Jonsson started his career as a sawmill worker with an interest in trade union issues. This brought him face-to-face with the fear of his workmates concerning the toxic chemicals that were used when working with newly sawn planks. He realised the need for improved protective equipment, regulations and knowledge concerning the workplace environment. His complete professional life has been characterised by work to prevent disease and accidents both at work and in the home. These were issues that Bertil Jonsson gave high priority not least during his time as president of LO-Sweden during the period 1993 2002.
Bertil Jonsson is 65 years old and has chaired the board of directors of Arbetsmarknadens försäkringsaktiebolag, AFA, since 2002. The AFA trust foundations for the support of research have provided significant contributions to the work of Karolinska Institutet. Research at KI supported by AFA has, for example, been an important component with respect to preventative measures concerning noise induced risks, and the incidence of back-problems and heavy lifting in working life.
Philip Yeo, chairman of A*STAR, the Singaporean Agency for Science, Technology and Research, is awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine. Philip Yeo has worked actively during the past 10 years to build medical research and education in Singapore, in collaboration with leading universities throughout the world, including Karolinska Institutet. Several collaborative agreements have been signed during these years between Karolinska Institutet and A* STAR, and between Karolinska Institutet and the National University of Singapore, concerning the exchange of researchers and students. Philip Yeo has played a critical part in ensuring that these agreements came about.
Philip Yeo was born in 1946 in Singapore. He received a doctorate in engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Harvard University. During Philip Yeo's period as chairman of A*STAR, Singapore has developed to become a leading centre for biomedical research and development in Asia within fields such as the biological mechanisms of infection, functional genomics, and stem cell research.
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