The Thompson Prize is named in recognition of E.O.P. (Ted) Thompson's contributions to the field of protein structure and function. See below for a list of previous winners.
An obituary of Ted that has recently been published in the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology magazine (The Australian Biochemist) can be found here.
A brief summary of Ted's achievements
In brief, Ted graduated from the University of Sydney in 1945 with first class honours in Organic Chemistry. In 1950, at a time when international research opportunities were rare, Ted received a CSIRO studentship from the Biochemistry Unit of the Division of Wool Research. The timing couldn't have been better, as Ted's opportunity was to do his Ph.D. research in Fred Sanger's laboratory at the time Sanger was completing his Nobel Prize-winning determination of the covalent structure of the A chain of insulin.
In Fred Sanger's article "Sequences and Sequences" published in the 1998 Annual Review of Biochemistry, he makes note of the time when Ted arrived in his laboratory and how he admired Ted's "no nonsense" view of research. "If there's an experiment to be done, then Ted would set about doing it"; Ted completed the primary structure of the glycyl chain, which was obviously very challenging at the time and his success left a favourable impression of Australian scientists in Cambridge. Fred was an excellent mentor for Ted, as he was a gifted experimentalist, patient and persistent with a quiet sense of humour and enthusiasm.
Following the completion of his Ph.D. at Cambridge, Ted extended his experience with proteins as a post-doctoral fellow and research instructor in the laboratory of Emil Smith at the University of Utah Medical School assisting in the laboratories enzyme research by applying some of the methods developed in Cambridge.
From 1954 to 1966 Ted worked in the CSIRO Division of Protein Chemistry working closely with Ian O'Donnell on the fractionation, purification and characterisation on one of the classes of wool proteins. In 1966 Ted was appointed Professor of Biochemistry in the Department of Biological Sciences UNSW. This was a period of rapid expansion of Australian Universities and it was a considerable challenge to move from the well-funded CSIRO environment into a department of limited resources and equipment for protein research.
However, with the establishment of the ARGC (now the ARC) and with University support, Ted established a highly productive program and team and determined the primary structure of several classes of protein including myoglobin, haemoglobin, ovalbumin, fructose-1,6 biphosphatase and oestrogen sulphotransferase. Ted retired in 1990 after 45 years of active research during which he had the satisfaction of collaborating with talented research scientists participating in, and appreciating rapid advances in the knowledge gained from research involving proteins and nucleic acids.
The SPG will continue the tradition of providing young scientists opportunities to present their work and compete for this prestigious award.
The Sydney Protein Group is an affiliated Special Interest Group of ASBMB Inc.