Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling received an honorary doctorate on Thursday in recognition of the help she has given researchers into multiple sclerosis.

Rowling, whose mother died of the wasting disease of the nervous system, was awarded a Doctorate of Laws by Aberdeen University in Scotland.

The writer of best-selling tales about a young wizard is president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland and has donated substantial sums to Aberdeen University's Institute of Medical Sciences for its research into the illness.

"J.K. Rowling is best known because of a book that she wrote in a cafe in Edinburgh which has made her a household name," Neva Haites, head of the university's College of Life Sciences and Medicine, told the award ceremony at Aberdeen's Marischal College.

"However, what is less well known is Ms. Rowling's significant contribution to many charitable causes."

Haites said Rowling had taken on leadership of the MS Society Scotland after discovering "what she called 'the appallingly poor quality of care available to people with multiple sclerosis in Scotland'."

"She is an example of a Scottish leader who has used her reputation and wealth to support the battle for improving human health and for fighting human disease," Haites said.

Dressed in a dark suit, Rowling smiled to acknowledge the audience's applause as the received the honor.

"I am thrilled ... It is very exciting," she told reporters afterward.

Rowling already has honorary degrees for her services to literature from the Scottish universities of St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Napier.

Her mother, Anne, died of multiple sclerosis as the age of 45 in 1990.