Stem cell scientist to head new Sciences Faculty

Professor Peter Rathjen

Professor Peter Rathjen
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Thursday, 27 June 2002

Professor Peter Rathjen, has been appointed Executive Dean of the University of Adelaide's new Faculty of Sciences. Aged 38, he is the youngest Executive Dean in the University's history.

A University of Adelaide graduate and former Rhodes Scholar, Professor Rathjen is currently the inaugural Head of the University's Department of Molecular Biosciences. He has an international reputation in the molecular genetics of mammalian development, and his research on the control of stem cell differentiation has applications involving the development of new gene and cell therapies for human disease. Professor Rathjen also brings to the position first hand experience in the commercialisation of research through his significant involvement with local biotech company Bresagen. In recognition of his scientific achievements, he was honoured with a Tall Poppy Award by the Australian Institute of Political Science in 2000.

Professor Rathjen takes over as Executive Dean from Professor Edwina Cornish, the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), who has held the position in an acting capacity since February. The Faculty of Sciences came into existence on 1 January 2002 through the merger of the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Professor Rathjen will be responsible for scientific education and research across the North Terrace, Roseworthy, Thebarton and Waite campuses.

"The reorganized Faculty has a crucial role to play in underpinning the economic revival of South Australia, " Professor Rathjen said. "Fundamentally, I see its role as helping to reinvent the future. We must ensure that our scientists are conducting research that is relevant to the needs of the state, the nation and the international community to which we belong. We must also ensure that the education programs we offer meet the needs of students, industry and the wider community.

"The Faculty provides study opportunities in a range of new and emerging areas, including the space sciences and astrophysics, optics and photonics, agricultural and medical biotechnology, as well as other areas of crucial importance to Australia's future, such as medical biosciences, natural resource and environmental management, food production and the wine industry.

"We aim to achieve critical mass in these areas through a greater emphasis on partnerships - partnerships between University departments as well as with hospitals, industry, and other research agencies and institutions both here and overseas. These partnerships are critical to the creation of new industries and businesses based on the commercialization of collaborative research efforts. And with these partnerships, the University is extremely well-placed to continue to play a leading role in the national research agenda."

Professor Rathjen said the recent announcement of the University of Adelaide's successful bid to host the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the Waite Campus was a recognition of the depth of scientific talent in South Australia.

"A success such as this illustrates that we are serious about our role as leaders in scientific innovation. It also shows we are playing an active role in partnership with research colleagues and government in boosting the South Australian economy and creating jobs for our talented new graduates."


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