Three of Cambridge's foremost medical academics, including one Nobel Prize winner, are among seven Cantabs honoured in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2012.
Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other scientists for their research into "the structure and function of the ribosome", has been knighted "for services to Molecular Biology". Dr Ramakrishnan currently works at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Professor Patrick Sissons, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine has also been knighted "for services to research and education in Clinical Medicine". The Regius Professorship of Physic is one the earliest professorships ever founded, with 'Physic' being an old word for 'Medicine' - Professor Sissons has been in the post since 2005. He is also a Fellow of Darwin College, and has been a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences since 1998. He describes his current research interests as the "pathogenesis of persistent virus infections".
A CBE is awarded to another medical man, Professor Trevor Robbins, "for services to Medical Research". Professor Robbins is Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, and Director of Cambridge University's Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute. His research interests focus on the brain systems relevant to neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease. Professor Robbins is a Fellow of Downing College, and of the Royal Society.
Moving away from medicine, there was a knighthood for Professor Geoffrey Hill, widely considered to be among the most distinguished English poets of his generation. The 79-year old is currently Professor of Poetry at Oxford, but he also holds an Honorary Fellowship from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In 2009, his Collected Critical Writings won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism, which comes with what is said to be the largest annual cash prize ($30,000) in English-language literary criticism. His knighthood was awarded "for services to Literature".
There was also an MBE for Peter Carpenter, founder and honorary executive secretary of Cambridge University's Kurt Hahn Trust, "for services to Anglo-German relations and to higher education". The Trust was set up in 1986 by the former Churchill Director of Studies in Education, to "foster Anglo-German understanding" and provides scholarships and awards to fund British Cambridge students wishing to study in Germany, and German students wishing to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge.
The final University figure to receive an honour is Matthew Moss, private secretary to the Cambridge Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz. He is made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO). Appointments to the Royal Victorian Order, unlike knighthoods and appointments to the Order of the British Empire (CBE, OBE, MBE), are conferred directly by The Queen without political input or ministerial recommendation on those "who have served her or the Monarchy in a personal way".
Also recognised in the 2012 New Year Honours list was 74-year-old father-of-three Peter Lee, owner of the Chinese restaurant Charlie Chan on Regent Street, Cambridge, who was awarded an MBE. Mr Lee emigrated from Hong Kong 46 years ago and took over the restaurant in 1982. As well as running several other restaurants around the country, he was also the first president of the Cambridge Chinese Association.
Speaking to Cambridge News, Mr Lee said: "It is fantastic news and I'm very grateful that my humble work in the community has been recognised.
"I've always thought this country has been very kind to me, being a foreigner, since I came to Cambridge 46 years ago, so to be honoured in this way is a source of great satisfaction to me."
In total, there are 984 people on the main honours list this year. They include diminutive elder statesman of comedy Ronnie Corbett (CBE), 2011 major-winning golfers Darren Clarke (OBE) and Rory McIlroy (MBE), actress Helena Bonham Carter (CBE) and Scottish presenter Lorraine Kelly (OBE).
Michael Yoganayagam - Associate News Editor