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Imperial awards honorary degrees to business and public health figures

For immediate use
Wednesday 18 May 2005

The achievements of two of the worlds leading business and academic figures are recognised today by Imperial College London.

Businessman and philanthropist Hans Rausing and leading epidemiology and public health expert Haile Debas receive honorary science doctorates at the Colleges Postgraduate Awards Ceremony.

Speaking before an audience of 1,300 graduands and their families in the Royal Albert Hall, Rector Sir Richard Sykes described them as outstanding role models for Imperials new graduates. He added:

"There can be few occasions when so much talent, so many trained minds and so much potential come together in one place.

"Students are the life blood of a successful university but, more importantly, once they enter society at large, they are evidence of what we stand for. Everyone at Imperial is proud of our students their hard work, their spirit and their enormous contribution to our university and the wider community."

Honorary DScs are awarded to figures who the College wishes to recognise for their contributions to their field.

For further information contact:

Abigail Smith
Press officer, Communications Department
Imperial College London
Tel: 020 7594 6701

Notes to editors:

About Professor Hans Rausing

Professor Hans Rausing, one of Europes most respected and successful businessmen, retired from the chairmanship of Tetra Laval in 1994. However, retirement would be a misnomer. Professor Rausing has remained active in business as chairman and majority shareholder of EcoLean, pioneering environmentally sustainable packaging. He is also recognised as an international philanthropist, generously supporting teaching and research in universities across the world and, in particular, nurturing economic development in Eastern Europe.

Professor Rausing became managing director of the family firm Tetra Pak in 1957. Under his leadership it grew to become the world's largest flexible packaging producer and, by developing paperboard packaging for liquids, effectively changed the way our everyday food products are packaged for sale. In 2004 The Financial Times nominated him as one of the most influential business people of the last 25 years.

Since retiring to Sussex, Professor Rausing has used his wealth to support a wide range of activities through the various Rausing family trusts that he has endowed. In the academic world his patronage extends from a £20 million grant to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to a ¬2.4 million donation for brain tumour research at his alma mater, the University of Lund in Sweden. The Hans Rausing Chair of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine here at Imperial College was created following a £2 million endowment from his daughter, Dr Lisbet Rausing.

About Professor Haile Debas

Professor Haile Debas is one of the worlds leading experts in epidemiology and public health. A specialist in gastrointestinal physiology, gastrointestinal peptides and brain-gut interactions, he has had a highly distinguished career combining academic surgery and academic management. He is a fellow both of the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, and is one of the few surgeons to be elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science.

Born in Eritrea, Professor Debas qualified in 1963 from McGill University in Montreal. He moved to UCLA in 1981 as professor in residence and, after various academic posts, became professor and chair of the department of surgery at the University of California San Francisco in 1987. In 1993 he became dean of the UCSF Medical School. Under his innovative stewardship the school became a national model for medical education. He was the universitys chancellor from 1997-98.

On his retirement from the post of dean in 2003, Professor Debas was invited to become executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, coordinating basic science programmes with the work of the worlds epidemiology, social and behavioural science and global health institutes. In connection with this programme he is currently a visiting professor at Imperial College, examining advances in basic sciences and genomics to understand better how the expertise of medical schools can be deployed to the benefit of public health in the developed and developing worlds.

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions, which enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.