In 2024, it will mark exactly 100 years since the Harrison Medal was first awarded by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to recognise an individual’s outstanding contributions to advancing pharmaceutical science. The award was set up in memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Frank Harrison (1869–1918), a distinguished pharmaceutical chemist, and is awarded every two years. Awardees are usually pharmacy professionals established in pharmaceutical research and mid-way through their research career, having a substantial, positive and lasting impact on the field. More information about the award and the nominations process can be found here.
The most recent medallist was Professor Abdul Basit, leader of the Basit Research Group at the University College London School of Pharmacy. Professor Basit is an internationally leading authority on oral drug delivery, digital health and innovative pharmaceutical technologies (e.g. 3D printing). He serves as a consultant to many pharmaceutical companies, and is on the advisory boards of scientific journals, healthcare organisations and charitable bodies. Professor Basit delivered his 2022 Harrison lecture ‘A spoonful of pharmaceutics helps the medicine go down’ at the RPS Celebration of Science event in November 2022.
As we look to receive nominations for the 2024 Harrison Medal, I would like to highlight the opportunity to nominate a colleague or friend for this prestigious award. After all, to receive the Harrison Award is to be recognised not only now but also in history. With this thought in mind, researching the contribution of early winners of the award, I came across a record of the Harrison Memorial Lecture given by the 1929 awardee, Mr P.A.W. Self, BSc. I would like to share the following excerpt from the record with readers and invite a reflection of where we stand today on these assertions:
“With regard to the qualities which the ideal research worker should possess, Mr Self placed in the most important position good judgement, and next to this a vivid but well-controlled imagination. To this should be added initiative, energy, perseverance, some curiosity, and a good sense of proportion. The worker should be both a pessimist and an optimist — enough of the former to realise that some tasks were beyond him [sic.], and enough of the latter to believe, once he had chosen his subject, that he was capable of overcoming any difficulties in relation thereto. In addition, if he was in the position of directing other workers, he must possess a character which would ensure him at least the respect, if not the devotion, of his subordinates; he must be a good organiser and possess a considerable knowledge of human nature. A being possessed of all these qualities had never existed, and probably never would exist. Nevertheless, the lives of some of the great scientists represented a very close approach to this ideal, and when they were studied it was remarkable how often the ideal had very nearly been attained.”
Perhaps the next winner of the Harrison Medal might also reflect on these points during their own memorial lecture to be delivered in 2024.
Nominations close on 15 November 2023.
Parastou Donyai, chief scientist, Royal Pharmaceutical Society