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Honorary degree recipient - Lady Mireille Gillings


Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Lady Mireille Gillings, scientist, pioneer, and philanthropist, for an honorary degree in recognition of her ground-breaking work in the field of science and medicine, and her contribution to improving global public health through the development of innovative drugs and treatments.

Lady Mireille Gillings can best be described as a classic highflyer. Born in Montreal, into a family of highflyers her mother was a pharmacist, of Dutch royal descent, who spoke seven languages and flew her own plane. And her father, born in Quebec was a talented engineer. Her brother also shares the family traits of tenacity, indomitability and determination. So, from this background, there’s no surprise that Lady Mireille has been so driven, successful and committed throughout her academic and business career.

Dès son jeune âge, Lady Mireille excelle dans ses études. Après son passage à la Queen of Angels Academy à Montréal, où elle nourrit son talent scientifique, elle obtient un premier diplôme à l’Université Concordia, puis un doctorat à l’Université de Nimègue, aux Pays-Bas, reconnue dans le monde entier pour son centre de recherche en neurologie de premier plan. C’est là qu’elle se découvre une fascination pour le cerveau et entreprend de se spécialiser dans la démence, la maladie d’Alzheimer et les facteurs influençant la toxicomanie.

Partly inspired by her mother’s work in the medical community, and by a profound desire to develop scientific breakthroughs that would make a positive difference to patients, Lady Mireille went on to further her research in neurobiology at Bordeaux University and then at the SCRIPPS Research Institute in California, where she continued to investigate aspects of neurodegenerative disease.

Lady Mireille also felt that the drug development process was too expensive and too slow and at this point her entrepreneurialism led her start own biotech company to address crucially important global health issues.

Beyond her scientific achievements, Lady Mireille is passionate about developing the next generation of scientific entrepreneurs who share her drive for transforming health and well-being. She is also actively engaged in many philanthropic activities, including the Mireille and Dennis Gillings Global Public Health Fellowships, which aim to equip future generations with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in transformative healthcare.

Above all, Lady Mireille has devoted her professional career to transforming human health. She will continue to race to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s unmet medical needs. Hers is a story of determined leadership, perseverance, innovative thinking, knowledge, and skill. I am sure that her example will resonate with many of you here today.

She is respected for her formidable intellect, her driving passion for excellence, and her contributions to neuroscience and entrepreneurship. For this the Government of France bestowed upon her its highest award, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Board of Governors and Senate, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Lady Mireille Gillings, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

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