As an incoming Fellow of The Royal Society, Professor Edward Holmes joins the most distinguished academics in science, medicine and technology from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
Evolutionary biologist with the University of Sydney Professor Holmes has been elected to The Royal Society, a rare and prestigious honour decided through a peer-review process on the basis of excellence in science.
Each year up to 52 Fellows and up to 10 Foreign Members are elected from a group of about 700 candidates – who are proposed by the existing Fellowship for having made a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge.
A National Health and Medical Research Council Fellow, Professor Holmes’ work has revealed the origin, evolution and molecular epidemiology of important human pathogens including influenza, HIV and dengue, and enabled more accurate assessments of what types of virus are most likely to emerge in human populations and whether they will evolve human-to-human transmission.
His recent research published in Nature uncovered almost 1500 viruses including several new families. Professor Holmes has provided fundamental insights into the breadth and biodiversity of the viral world, using genomic and phylogenetic approaches to reveal the major mechanisms of virus evolution; he has determined the genetic and epidemiological processes that explain how viruses jump species boundaries and spread in new hosts.
Professor Holmes is a Professor with the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases & Biosecurity and School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, located in the Charles Perkins Centre.
In 2003 he was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London and in 2015 was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Michael Spence, congratulated Professor Holmes on the appointment.
This is an extremely high and rare accolade, one that Professor Holmes absolutely deserves following a career devoted to understanding human diseases for the benefit of humankind.
Professor Holmes thanked the Society and the University of Sydney for their support of the work he leads in collaboration with medical and infectious-diseases institutes globally.
“It's a tremendous honour that reflects the world-class medical science being performed at the University of Sydney,” he said.
1445 viruses have been discovered in the most populous animals – those without backbones such as insects and worms – in a Nature paper that shows human diseases like influenza are derived from those present in invertebrates.