Growth hormone pioneer elected Australian Academy of Science Fellow

1 Jun 2015

University of Queensland researcher Professor Mike Waters has today been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science during his career spanning more than 45 years.

Professor Waters is a molecular endocrinologist and group leader at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and has an international reputation in studying growth hormone action – which makes humans and animals grow – at the molecular level.

He was the first to purify and characterise the growth hormone receptor and, together with biotechnology company Genentech, to clone it.

Recently he discovered the molecular movements caused by the hormone binding to the receptor which initiate signalling to DNA.

His discoveries are contributing to the development of new cancer and diabetes therapies.

Professor Waters said he was first drawn to the idea of a career in medical research after watching his father work as a doctor in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

“As a young boy in the 1950s I first saw what penicillin could do, and I have always remembered that – it was quite remarkable,” he said.

“In the 60s I found a book called The Magic of Modern Medicine that explained how penicillin worked at the molecular level and suddenly it all clicked – I knew I wanted to study the body at the molecular level and understand these fascinating things.”


Professor Waters, who has authored over 260 papers which have been cited over 10,000 times, said the thrill of discovery still inspires him.

“Science allows you to find out something that nobody else has ever known before that could be really important for health or civilisation; it’s a wonderful opportunity and a real privilege to be able to discover something unique,” he said.

“I am absolutely delighted to be elected to the Academy and I am grateful for the support I have received from my family, friends and colleagues that has made my research possible.”

Every year the Academy honours the work of Australia’s leading scientists with election to its fellowship, which now numbers 503.

Professor Waters is the fourth IMB researcher to become an AAS Fellow, alongside Professor David Craik (2013), Professor Rob Parton (2009), and Professor Peter Koopman (2008). 

Media: Gemma Ward, IMB Communications, 07 3346 2134, 0439 651 107,