UGA hosts 10th annual Ritter Lecture Series with leading Scottish researcher and professor

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia 10th annual Ritter Lecture Series will feature Michael Ferguson, dean of Research for the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee in Scotland, on March 22 at 4 p.m. in room 404B in the Biological Sciences Building.

“We are thrilled to have Professor Ferguson deliver the Ritter Lecture,” said Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, professor of the cellular biology department at UGA. “His work in basic biochemistry and cell biology has been phenomenal, leading to the establishment of new fields in glycobiology and parasitology. His recent success in translating basic scientific findings into potential new therapies for controlling neglected diseases is without peer in any academic institution. He embodies ‘needs-driven science’ at its highest level.”

Ferguson earned his B.S. degree in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and received his Ph.D. at London University. He continued research at Rockefeller University in New York and later at Oxford University. In 1988, Ferguson became a faculty member at the University of Dundee, where he established a laboratory dedicated to solving the structures of major cell surface molecules hoping to utilize these differences for drug design. Ferguson’s interest in protozoa that cause neglected tropical diseases inspired him to champion the establishment of a drug discovery unit at the University of Dundee. This unit translates basic research into multi-disciplinary drug discovery programs on a university campus.

Ferguson has published more than 200 peer reviewed research papers in the course of his scientific breakthroughs and achievements. He has been recognized with several awards, such as the 1991 Colworth Medal of the British Biochemical Society and the 2006 Wright Medal of the British Society for Parasitology. Ferguson was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of London, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. For his contributions to science, Ferguson was honored as a Commander of the British Empire in 2008.

The Ritter Lecture Series was established in 1999 to honor Hope T.M. Ritter Jr., Professor Emeritus of Cellular Biology at UGA. The series brings a distinguished speaker to the campus each academic year and is supported by the Ritter Lecture Series Fund created with contributions from family and friends of Ritter on the occasion of his 80th birthday and more recently, in celebration of his life and accomplishments. Ritter joined the cellular biology faculty in 1966 and concentrated his research interests on mitosis and morphogenesis, particularly in the anaerobic protists found in the intestinal tract of the wood digesting cockroach Cryptocercus. Although officially retired in 1987, Ritter stayed active in writing and research until his death in 2007.

For more information on UGA’s cellular biology department and the Ritter Lecture Series, see