Founding director of The Florey to be remembered at State Memorial Service

Dignitaries will gather to commemorate one of the world’s greatest scientific minds, Emeritus Professor Derek Denton AC, this week.

A State Memorial Service at Rippon Lea Estate will be held on Thursday (23 March); this will be followed by a traditional academic Festschrift on Friday (24 March) where Professor Denton’s life and works will be celebrated with a series of scientific presentations from his closest collaborators.

As part of the Festschrift, host of The Science Show on the ABC, Robyn Williams AO, will deliver the Derek Denton Oration in Science and The Arts – a University of Melbourne initiative set up by Professor Denton five years ago, to broaden and influence the academic community with the world’s most eminent creatives.

About Emeritus Professor Derek Denton AC

Professor Denton passed away at the age of 98 on Friday 18 November 2022 surrounded by his family. Known for his numerous ground-breaking discoveries as a research physiologist, he led international projects investigating how the brain regulates chemicals, salt, and water in the body.

Professor Denton’s discoveries enhanced our knowledge about instinctive behaviours such as thirst, hunger and the urge to reproduce – knowledge that has saved countless lives and continues to serve as a springboard for many research projects across the world.

Professor Derek Denton

In 1958, Professor Denton brought together Mr Kenneth Myer AC, Sir Ian Potter and Dr H.C. Coombs to formulate the concept of what is now the internationally-renowned research centre, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Professor Denton will be remembered as a revolutionary leader in medical research, and an Australian treasure. A dedicated husband to his late wife, the founding director of the Australian Ballet School Dame Maggie Scott, he is survived by his two sons – Angus and Matthew Denton.

Professor Trevor Kilpatrick, Director of The Florey, said Professor Denton leaves behind a legacy of research excellence, tenacity and curiosity.

“Professor Denton was committed to solving the biggest medical challenges of our era, and his vision for medical research in Australia was unparalleled,” said Professor Kilpatrick.

We look forward to celebrating and reflecting on Professor Denton’s incredible life and numerous achievements with the scientific community, and we are honoured to be joined by the Denton family.

“We are enormously proud to continue Professor Denton’s legacy through inquisitive, insightful and life-changing research, and remain committed to bringing together remarkable minds to advance brain science.”