Queens Birthday Honour for Perkins Professor

The Governor-General has appointed an eminent Western Australian Medical Researcher, Professor Nigel Laing, as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Nigel Laing

Professor Laing AO, heads the Perkins Neurogenetic Diseases Laboratory and has made significant contributions to the field over the course of his career.

The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent means by which Australia recognizes the outstanding and meritorious service of its citizens and Professor Laing AO, was honoured for his “distinguished service to medicine in the field of neuromuscular disorders, as an academic and researcher, to medical education and through contributions to professional associations.”

Professor Laing AO, said that the Queen’s birthday honour would have made his father particularly proud.

“Dad was a chemistry teacher and he started to call me ‘Professor’ from the age of 3,” he says. “Apparently at that age I asked my Mother how I could move my fingers whenever I wanted to. I’ve spent my research career since then asking questions that are easier to answer.”

Professor Laing’s human disease gene discovery research has included the identification of more than 20 human disease genes. One disease where Professor Laing’s Group identified the disease gene is named after him and is known world-wide as Laing distal myopathy.

Most recently, Professor Laing’s Group has identified five genes associated with recessive foetal akinesia, that is diseases where the unborn baby becomes paralysed in utero.

These diseases are extremely distressing for the affected families and the parents, above all else, do not want to have another affected child. The parents cannot avoid having another affected child, except by deciding not to have any more children, until the disease gene affected in their family is identified. The same holds true for the congenital myopathies for which Professor Laing’s Group has identified genes.

Professor Laing’s Group has received emails and letters from all over the world, thanking the Group for allowing families the ability to avoid having further affected children, through families, in many cases after many years, knowing what the disease gene is in their family. 

Professor Laing’s research outputs thus readily translate into health outcomes for patients and families affected by genetic diseases, which he says is very rewarding.

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