Image of Mortar Boards being thrown in the air in celebration

David Molyneux

Oration

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Professor David Molyneux for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

More than a third of the world's population is exposed to neglected tropical diseases with around 1 billion people infected at any time. These people are typically poverty-stricken and often have multiple diseases, a combination of circumstances that results in about half a million deaths each year. 

David Molyneux, currently Emeritus Professor of Tropical Health Sciences and Senior Professorial Fellow of The University of Liverpool, has dedicated his entire career to fighting these diseases. 

David Molyneux was born in Northwich Cheshire and went to Denstone School in Staffordshire where he excelled in biological sciences. After A Levels, he went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, graduating with a degree in zoology, then completing a PhD in parasitology before taking a post as a lecturer in parasitology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 1968.  

Between 1970 and 1972, he worked in Africa at the Nigerian Institute of Trypanosomiasis Research, where he gained invaluable first-hand experience of many neglected tropical diseases. 

After returning to Liverpool, he worked on a parasitic disease spread by infected sandflies and then, in 1975, was recruited by the World Health Organisation to lead a complex and challenging project in what is now Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), developing diagnostic techniques for sleeping sickness and new approaches to spraying insecticides on the tsetse flies that spread the disease.  

David came back to the UK in 1977 to take the Chair of Biological Sciences at the University of Salford, subsequently becoming Chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences and then Dean of Science. During this time, David continued to work with the World Health Organisation with a major focus on research into river blindness. 

In 1991, he returned to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as the Director and in 2000 became the Director of the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre within the School – supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) with £1 million funding per year and by GlaxoSmithKline with free drugs to help eliminate filariasis, a tropical disease caused by the filarial nematode worm. This collaboration led to the formation of the Global Alliance for the Elimination of Filariasis, of which David is Executive Secretary, an alliance which has facilitated the treatment of half a billion people in 51 countries, with an estimated economic saving over a ten year period of $21 billion. 

The neglected tropical diseases truly have been neglected, and, according to Professor Molyneux, "The voiceless poor are disenfranchised. People at policy level believe only malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV exist. The other major diseases are ignored, but cause as large a burden as malaria and tuberculosis." Funds represent just 0.6% of the total international development assistance, compared with 37% for HIV/AIDS.  

Given his research interests, Prof Molyneux has travelled extensively not only in Africa but also in the Middle East, Far East and Latin America. 

He has published over 300 papers in biological science journals, written over 20 reviews and contributions to books as well as a textbook on diseases caused by infected sand flies and tsetse flies. 

He has supervised students from many parts of the world and has acted as a consultant not only to the World Health Organisation, but also to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development. 

He has also served on national and international review committees of the Welcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the World Health Organization. 

Professor Molyneux is hugely respected in his field and his contribution has been recognized in many ways: He was made a Fellow of the Institute of Biology in 1984.

He is a former President of the British Society of Parasitology and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians  

In acknowledgement of his outstanding research, he was awarded a DSc in 1992 by the University of Salford.  

Earlier this year, he was awarded an honorary DSc from Georgetown University in Washington DC  

He has received medals from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the British Society of Parasitology, and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He was recently President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. And he is a former Trustee of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside.  

David lists his recreations as golf, music, travel and primitive art. Formerly a single figure golfer, he now plays off 12, which is still impressive when you consider his demanding work schedule and his position as one of the world's most productive and effective scientists whose leadership and research have been to the great benefit of millions of the most deprived people on earth. 

Professor Molyneux is a most worthy recipient of an honour today.  

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Professor David Hurst Molyneux, this most distinguished son of our region, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.