Remise de la Légion d’Honneur au Professeur Suzanne Cory (12 juin 2009)
Au cours d’une cérémonie spéciale à la Résidence de l’Ambassade de France à Canberra le 12 juin 2009, l’Ambassadeur de France en Australie, Son Excellence Michel Filhol, a remis les insignes de Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur au professeur Suzanne Cory, Professeur en biologie médicale, Directrice de l’Institut de recherche WEHI (Walter and Elisa Hall Institute of Medical Research) et membre du Conseil scientifique de l’Institut Pasteur.
S E Michel Filhol, l’Ambassadeur de France en Australie remet la médaille de Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur au Professeur Suzanne Cory.
Discours de Son Excellence, l’Ambassadeur Michel Filhol,
A l’occasion de la remise de la croix de Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur
au Professeur Suzanne Cory
Distinguished Directors, Professors, Scientists,
Members of Mrs Cory’s family
Ladies and gentlemen
Dear Professor Suzanne Cory,
Within some minutes I’ll have the honour and the pleasure to confer upon you, Dear Professor Cory, the distinction of Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.
Since its origin, the French Republic has paid attention and respect in the utmost way to the top scientists what ever their passport may be.
In acknowledging their merits, the Republic is consistent with one dimension of its founding values : the belief and the confidence in progress, for the sake and benefit of mankind.
And could progress be possible without prominent researchers ?
You are one of them, Madame le Professeur :
A scientist known worldwide in your scientific specialty ;
A respected manager of the famous “Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research” ;
A living example of a successful scientific cooperation between France and Australia.
Indeed how someone else could combine so successfully a dedication to foster progress in cancer research and bridging such an effort between our two countries ?
Born in Victoria where you still keep in touch with your roots, you decided after your graduation in biochemistry to expose yourself to a different environment.
Therefore, you went to Cambridge, UK. There you met two personalities who would influence the rest of your life :
First you worked under the guidance of Professor Francis Crick, Nobel Prize winner, discoverer of the structure of the DNA.
Second you met your husband, Professor Jerry Adams, with whom you have two charming daughters : Keren and Karly.
I am pleased to acknowledge their presence, here, tonight.
From Geneva where you and Prof. Adams completed a postdoctoral fellowship, you threw a glance over the border.
May be you came to visit Ferney, this French borough adjacent to Geneva which was the retreat of Voltaire, the most brilliant figure of the French enlightenment and who did so much to promote the ideal of progress.
Most certainly you were interested to know much more about Institut Pasteur, in Paris, being attracted by the reputation of the then new Nobel prize winners, Professors Wolf, Jacob and Monod.
But it was time for you to come back home, to Victoria, where you began to work at WEHI.
20 years later, you were appointed as Director of this institution as well as Professor at the University of Melbourne.
In the meantime if I may say so, you achieved among others a major scientific breakthrough in discovering the BCL-2 oncogene. In other words you decisively contributed to better understanding the cancer process.
The worldwide scientific community has you to thank for 200 publications in the most prestigious journals, and has rewarded you with many prizes, among them the “Prix Loreal - UNESCO of female scientists”.
But what about your French connection in this outstanding cursus ?
One may say this special connection has been and is still today, close, fruitful and confident.
The nature of this relationship can be summed up in two words : “Institut Pasteur” with which you collaborated for so long and are still doing so.
Indeed you spent several periods of your life in Paris, including two long sabbatical leaves in 2001, and in 2006, working with Professor Moshe Yaniv in particular.
In March 2002 you were elected to the French Academy of Sciences as a foreign associate,
while being of course member of the distinguished Australian Academy of Sciences and member of the board of the CSIRO.
Many of your colleagues, peers and friends scattered throughout the world and in Australia would have liked to attend this ceremony.
Numerous messages of congratulations have been extended to you. We received some of them at the Embassy. I would like to single out the one expressed by the Professor Alice Dautry, Directrice Générale de l’Institut Pasteur.
Professor Cory, your contributions to the scientific progresses in crucial areas, primarily in cancer research , and your dedication to collaborate with your French counterparts have been recognised by the French Republic as being of the highest value.
“Professeur Suzanne Cory, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous remettons les insignes de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur »
Hon. Bob MacMullan, Secrétaire d’Etat pour l’Aide internationale au développement, Professeur Suzanne Cory, S E Michel Filhol, Ambassadeur de France en Australie
Professeur Michel Thibier, M. Roger Cory, Professeur Suzanne Cory, Karly Cory, Professeur Jerry Adams et Hon. Bob MacMullan, Secrétaire d’Etat pour l’Aide internationale au développement.