Leading scientist awarded prestigious North East honorary accolade

Deborah O'Neil

A LEADER in the field of scientific research and drug development has been awarded an Honorary Degree from Robert Gordon University (RGU) during the University’s graduation ceremonies this week.

Deborah O’Neil OBE, has received a Doctor of Science (DSc) from the University in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the field of research and drug development and developing the clinical and commercial potential for antimicrobial technologies within NovaBiotics, the company she set up in 2004.

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Professor Steve Olivier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of RGU, commented: “Deborah O’Neil has made a transformative contribution to the field of research and drug development here in the UK, as well as further afield in Europe, during her extensive career.

“She is a leader in the field of research and development of new medicines for life-threatening and life-limiting diseases, including conditions such as pneumonia caused by COVID, drug-resistant bacterial infections, life-threatening fungal infections, and cystic fibrosis.

“Awarding Deborah an Honorary Degree recognises the enormous impact she has made to antimicrobial technologies and in finding new medicines to combat infectious and inflammatory diseases. As the world prepares to fight any future viral pandemic, research in this field is ever more critical, and I am delighted to recognise Deborah in this way.”

A biotechnologist with over three decades of experience in the field of research and drug development, Deborah is the Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Officer of Novabiotics, having established the biotechnology company business herself in 2004.

Deborah trained as an immunologist in world-leading laboratories at University College London, University of California San Diego and the University of Ghent, before moving to Aberdeen in 2001. Here she developed the clinical and commercial potential of her antimicrobial technologies, launching Novabiotics out of the University of Aberdeen’s Rowett Research Institute.

Deborah was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2018 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. She was named as one of the top 20 female leaders in European biotech in 2019 and one of the top 30 female leaders in UK health care in 2018. In 2020 she was awarded an OBE for services to biotechnology, industry, and charity.

Deborah is also a Board member of the UK’s BioIndustry Association; a Director and founding member of the BEAM Alliance (Biotechs of Europe innovating in Anti-Microbial Resistance); a member of the Scottish Life Sciences Industry Leadership Group; and served on the Boards of the Scottish Life Sciences Association, Opportunity North East (One) life science sector and One Biohub.

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