AUSTRALIAN Professor Suzanne Cory said she was ‘very astonished and totally honoured’ to be appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Pope John Paul II nominated Professor Cory to the academy and the Vatican made the announcement of her appointment last weekend.
Prof Cory, an internationally recognised pioneer in medical research and molecular biology, said her appointment came as a complete surprise and she was looking forward to learning more about her role.
She is a professor of medical biology at the University of Melbourne and director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Parkville. Her current research focuses on cancer and the study of how the death of cells is regulated.
Prof Cory joins four other female scientists in the academy, including Rita Levi-Montalcini, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in medicine.
She said she was delighted to learn there were some familiar faces among her fellows in the academy.
Raised an Anglican, Prof Cory said she was not a diligent churchgoer but she still had tremendous respect for the Church.