UWI Vice-Chancellor to be honoured by University of St Andrews, Scotland
Posted: June 14, 2013
The Vice Chancellor, Professor E. Nigel Harris will be conferred with an honorary doctorate degree on the occasion of the 600th Anniversary of the University of St. Andrews on 14 September 2013.
The honorary doctorate is being conferred in recognition of Professor Harris’ accomplishments in medicine and in recognition of the relationship of the University of St Andrews to the University College of the West Indies at the time of the founding of our institution. Sir James Irvine, the Vice Chancellor of the University of St Andrews led the UK appointed Commission that recommended the creation of the University of the West Indies (initially in 1948 as a College of the University of London) and many elements of the UWI were modelled on St Andrews.
Professor Harris is best known internationally for his description of an unusual disorder of clotting and pregnancy losses that he and his colleagues – Professor Graham Hughesand Aziz Gharavi – called the “Anti-phospholipid Syndrome”. They devised the test forthe disorder – the anti-cardiolipin test, developed calibrators for the test (often nowreferred to as “Harris standards”), and did considerable work on characterizing theseunique antibodies. Later, with another colleague, Professor Silvia Pierangeli, theydeveloped a modified test for the disorder – now marketed under the Louisville APhL test – and they devised a mouse model for the disorder that enabled studies of how theantibodies might cause thrombosis.
The field of anti-phospolipid antibodies attracted worldwide attention and beginning in 1974 there have been biennial international symposia on the subject, the next planned for Sao Paulo (Brazil) in September 2013.
For his work in this field, Professor Harris along with colleagues, Graham Hughes, AzizGharavi and others were awarded the CIBA-GEIGY Prize by the International Leagueagainst Rheumatism (1990). He received the centennial award for his work in medicineby the National Medical Association (in the USA), a Caribbean Health Research Council(CCHRC) Award for achievements in medical research and in 2012, he was elected a Master of the American College of Rheumatology.
In his capacity as Vice Chancellor, he is currently Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (which has a membership of 530 universities in the Commonwealth), President of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA) and a member of the administrative board of the International Association of Universities (IAU). He also serves as Chair of the Caribbean Examinations Council.
On September 14, the day following the graduation ceremony, St Andrews University will host a panel on “the future of Universities” at which Professor Harris will be one of the guest speakers. Other panellists will include Professor Derek Bok (former President, Harvard University), Professor Peter Mandel (Professor of Cultural History, University of Cambridge) and Professor Louise Richardson (Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of St. Andrews).