UCD has awarded a Ulysses Medal, the highest award it can bestow, upon Dr Lee Hood to recognise and acknowledge his unprecedented contributions in the fields of biology and medicine. Professor Mark Rogers, UCD Deputy President and Registrar, presented the award in Dr. Hood’s honour at the 2016 UCD Conway Festival of Research & Innovation.  

Dr Lee Hood pursued his studies in biology from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) followed by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he earned the title of M.D. in 1964. Since then his prime focus has been on the structure, genetic makeup and evolution of immunoglobulins.

Contemporary biology owes a lot to Dr Hood as he is single-handedly believed to have developed the five fundamental instruments- protein sequencers, automated DNA sequencers, DNA synthesizers, peptide synthesizers, and an ink jet printer for assembling DNA arrays. Professor Walter Kolch, Director of Systems Biology Ireland, who gave a speech at the medal presentation, said “These instruments opened the door to high-throughput biological data and the era of big data in biology and medicine. Lee helped pioneer the human genome program —making it possible with the automated DNA sequencer. Under Hood’s direction, the Human Genome Center sequenced portions of human chromosomes 14 and 15.”

Dr Hood “has accumulated 36 patents, 17 honorary degrees and over 100 other awards and honours’

To highlight his more recent contributions to the field of system biology he has reported to have been working a role of systems biology in personalized medicine and neurodegenerative diseases as well. Professor Kolch praised Dr Hood’s work ethic and noted how he was working on “pioneering new approaches to P4 medicine—predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory approaches to scientific wellness” and had “recently embarked on creating a P4 pilot project on 100,000 well individuals that is transforming healthcare” despite turning 78 next month.

The achievements of Dr. Hood cannot be overlooked as they are exemplary in the field of biotechnology with 750 papers published under his name. Furthermore, he has accumulated 36 patents, 17 honorary degrees and over 100 other awards and honours. As well as having the distinction of being one of the most frequently cited scientists across the world, he is one of the only 15 individuals to have been elected to all three National Academies- the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

The UCD Ulysses Medal was inaugurated in 2005 to honour the ‘creative brilliance’ of UCD alumnus James Joyce and to mark the university’s sesquicentennial celebrations. It has since been presented time and again to different personalities to highlight their contributions to the international forum of academia.


 Zyana Morris  |  News Writer