Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

Professor Bengt Saltin, MD

Public Orator, Professor Clyde Williams, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 14 July 2003 at 10.30am.

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen and Graduates.

Should you decide to spend the next 3 weeks lying by the pool or on a beach and later find that your fitness is all washed up -

Or should you go trekking in the Himalayas or follow the Inca trail and wonder why you are more breathless than the spectacular views -

Or should you devote your life only to the intellect and then wonder why the engine of your new car you drive is getting larger than that of the driver -

Or why your heart skips more than a beat or two even though no one comes into the room

Or wonder why the coach makes you run just one more lap and then serves you even more bread and potatoes

Or should you ponder on why the Kenyan runners leave all behind - is it their size?

Or is it too late to take up exercise -could I be an Olympian in disguise

Then the person to ask is Professor Bengt Saltin because he has spent over 30 years providing the answers to these questions in his studies on human exercise physiology.

Graduating in medicine from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 1964 Bengt Saltin launched himself into a research career in exercise physiology that has opened up huge areas of understanding about how we respond to exercise and also the lack of it.

Within 4 years of graduating he was appointed Professor of Applied Physiology at the Karolinska Institute. This was a time when Stockholm was the centre of the world for exercise physiology as judged not only by the number of research papers published but also by the numbers of international researchers queuing up to work with Bengt and his team.

And then as life looked settled and satisfying Bengt got an invitation to go south to help save exercise science in the birthplace of exercise physiology. He was duly appointed professor of human physiology at the August Krogh Institute in Copenhagen.

The rest is, as they say, history. Not only did he revive exercise physiology at the August Krogh Institute but he also established, with funding from the Danish Government, a world class research centre. Over the last decade the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, under his leadership, has provide some of the most innovative research ever completed and moved our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the adaptations to exercise- from the cell down to the level of the gene.

If this is hard to comprehend then just remember -when next on your daily run you hear that familiar jibe " training for the Olympics are you?" Now with confidence you can reply " No I am doing an experiment in molecular biology".

But Bengt Satin is not simply an observer of physical activity, his insights and curiosity about exercise stem from his own participation in sport, principally as an international orienteer. He has also contributed to his sport as President of the International Orienteering Federation and more recently he became the Chairman of the Medical Committee of the International Ski Federation.

Recognised for his contributions to physiological sciences Bengt Saltin has been awarded honours by European and American Universities and by Medical Societies of Sweden and Denmark. He was also awarded the International Olympic Committee's prize for Sports Science.

So fitting the Loughborough Tradition of outstanding contributions to sport and excellence in science-- it is my privilege and honour to present to you and the University-- Professor Bengt Saltin for the Degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

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