The Academy of Medical Sciences announces election of new Fellows 2021

Cambridge scientists are among the new Fellows announced today by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has elected 50 prominent biomedical and health scientists to its respected and influential Fellowship. The new Fellows have been selected for their exceptional contributions to the advancement of medical science through innovative research discoveries and translating scientific developments into benefits for patients and the wider society.

Professor Dame Anne Johnson, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “I am truly delighted to welcome these 50 new Fellows to the Academy’s Fellowship, and I offer my congratulations to each of them on their exceptional contribution to biomedical and health science. The knowledge, skill and influence that each brings to the Fellowship is the Academy’s most powerful asset.

“The last year has clearly demonstrated the power and prowess of UK biomedical science, and I am proud of how many Fellows, new and old, have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in the UK and globally.

“Although it is hard to look beyond the pandemic right now, I want to stress how important it is that the Academy Fellowship represents the widest diversity of biomedical and health sciences. The greatest health advances rely on the findings of many types of research, and on multidisciplinary teams and cross-sector and global collaboration.”

Professor Franklin Aigbirhio FRSC

Professor of Molecular Imaging Chemistry, Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the Department of Chemistry, Senior Research Fellow, Magdalene College

Professor Aigbirhio’s research focuses on the development and application of new biomedical imaging technologies for clinical research in areas such as dementia, acute brain injury and hypertension. His research seeks to enable earlier detection and a greater understanding of the disorders, thereby aiding the development of new treatments. A further objective of Professor Aigbirhio’s work is to enable these new imaging technologies to be more accessible and widely applied throughout the NHS.

“It’s a pleasure and honour to be elected to this Fellowship, which I recognise is an outcome of the collaborations with many talented colleagues at Cambridge and further afield, for which I give my sincere thanks,” said Aigbirhio.

“Going forward my election to the Fellowship provides a platform to highlight the role of black researchers and participants in biomedical and health research and to increase their involvement.”

Professor Ravindra Gupta

Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Fellow, Homerton College

Professor Gupta has worked extensively in HIV, both at molecular and population levels, and his work demonstrating escalating global resistance led to change in WHO treatment guidelines for HIV. He led the team that demonstrated HIV cure in the ‘London Patient’ – only the second in history.

In 2020 he was named as one of the 100 most influential people worldwide by TIME Magazine. Gupta deployed his expertise in RNA virus genetics and biology during the COVID-19 pandemic to report the first evidence for immune escape of SARS-CoV-2 within an individual, defining the process by which new variants likely arise, and also reporting the first data on Pfizer BioNTech vaccine-induced antibody responses against the B.1.1.7 ‘Kent UK’ variant.

“I am honoured to have been elected to Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences,” said Gupta. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of cross-disciplinary science. Research excellence across medical sciences and translation to health improvements has been at the centre of the Academy’s mission and I am very pleased to now be able to contribute to fulfilling this aim as a Fellow.”

Professor Brian Huntly

Head of the Department of Haematology and Professor of Leukaemia Stem Cell Biology, Group Leader at the Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

Professor Huntly’s research focuses on the stem cell aspects of the evolution of haematological malignancies, in particular acute myeloid leukaemia and lymphoma. His election recognises his many contributions to the understanding and treatment of blood cancers.

“I am delighted and honoured to be elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences,” said Huntly. “The Academy’s aims of bringing the best minds in biomedical research together, supporting talent, asking challenging questions and sharing our work so that all can benefit from it mirror very much our own aims here in Cambridge. Biomedical research is a hugely collaborative endeavour and I see my election as recognition of the hard work of many people who have contributed to my research and also highlighting the tremendous work we are doing at the University of Cambridge Department of Haematology.”

Professor Adrian Liston

Senior Group Leader, Babraham Institute, Senior Research Fellow, Churchill College

Professor Adrian Liston works in the field of immunology, based around the question of the biological checkpoints that restrain immune activation. His research investigates the basis for pathological immune activation in the contexts of autoimmune diseases, primary immunodeficiencies and neuroinflammation. By understanding the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of immune checkpoint failure in these conditions, the rationale selection of therapeutics can help prevent or treat pathologies.

“This is a really wonderful recognition of the work from my team”, Liston said. “I’ve been lucky to work with an outstanding team of scientists, able to work on immune pathology from different angles – from the clinic or the lab, as an immunologist or a neuroscientist, in advanced techniques ranging from cytometry through to computational modelling. The curiosity and interdisciplinarity of the team are what has let us explore new fields and push the boundaries forwards.”

Professor Benjamin Simons FRS

Royal Society EP Abraham Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and Senior Group Leader of the Gurdon Institute, Group Leader at the Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Fellow, St John’s College

As a theorist, Professor Simons has contributed to a diverse range of fields, from quantum condensed matter physics to developmental and cancer biology. His research translates concepts and approaches from statistical physics to gain predictive insights in the collective dynamics of complex systems. In biology, his studies have revealed common mechanisms of stem cell regulation, and how these programmes become subverted during the early phase of tumour growth.

Simons said: “As a theorist, and relative newcomer to the field of biomedical sciences, it is a great honour to be elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.”

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