Mike Fisher Memorial Award

Mike Fisher graduated from King’s College, London University with a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry/ pharmacology. He joined Merck in 1957 and worked with them until he had a stroke in early 2004. He was vice president of research and headed a lab of 60 research scientists of whom over half were postdoctoral fellows. His most recent research involved studies on cures for pain and diabetes. It was his scientific intellect and observational scholarship which led to perhaps his most profound discovery of ivermectin. In the 1970’s his lab was receiving thousands of soil and plant samples from all over the world which he was screening for their effects on a number of organisms. One sample came from a bunker from a golf course in Japan that contained a fungus called Streptomyces avermillis. This fungus proved to be lethal to Mike’s lab mice and when others may have discarded the compound Mike persevered and tried ever minute doses of the substance. He was amazed at how little compound completely removed nematodes from the mice …. and a new powerful drug against roundworm parasites was born. For his discovery Mike received the Thomas Edison award for creative discovery and the veterinary and medical world received a compound that revolutionized the treatment and cure of a myriad of infectious diseases. Today as a result of the discovery of ivermectin over 35 million people no longer live under the threat of inevitably going blind from onchocerciasis (river blindness), millions more have been spared the gross disfigurement from lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis and hydrocoele) and dogs and cats (heartworm), pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and horses live a healthier life because of ivermectin. Shockingly if the astute observation on ivermectin had not been made by Mike all of these benefits may never have evolved for the organism has never again been found in its natural state in the wild. Mike was one of the most modest self effacing scientists, a real gentleman, and it was indeed a great honor to have known him. Mike passed away at his Bel Air plantation home on 20th April 2005. So many people and animals have benefited from Mike’s work, his legacy will not be forgotten.

Cal Macpherson, Director, WINDREF


Past Winners

  • 2014
    Professor Alan Fenwick 

  • 2013
    Professor R. C. Andrew Thompson

  • 2012
    Dr. Donald Hopkins

  • 2011
    Professor Ade Lucas

  • 2010
    Lord John Walton

  • 2009
    Dr. John David

  • 2008
    Lord May of Oxford

  • 2007
    Dr. Keith B. Taylor

  • 2006
    Lord Lawson Soulsby of Swaffham Prior