UCL: UCL academics elected to Academy of Medical Sciences

Professors Sebastian Brandner and Karen Duff (both UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology), Professor Robert Heyderman (UCL Infection & Immunity), Professors Sam Janes and Hugh Montgomery (both UCL Medicine), Professor Caroline Sabin (UCL Institute for Global Health), and Professor Russell Viner (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), as well as Honorary Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences), are among the 60 outstanding scientists elected to the Fellowship this year.

The academics from UCL are:

Professor Sebastian Brandner (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)

Professor Brandner, Professor of Neurodegenerative Diseases, studies the cellular origins of brain tumours, including research that could feed into potential new treatments such as discovering biomarkers that correlate with survival of gliomas. He introduced a novel technology to diagnose brain tumours into clinical practice in the UK, which is now an essential part of molecular diagnostics in the NHS. He also researches neurodegeneration, having led two national surveillance studies of Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and he led a team that discovered that amyloid beta can in rare cases be transmitted through medical procedures.

Professor Karen Duff (UK Dementia Research Institute, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)

Professor Duff is UK DRI Centre Director at UCL, and is a Professor in Dementia and Neurodegeneration who was co-awarded the prestigious 2006 Potamkin Prize. Exploring a variety of disease-associated molecular mechanisms using innovative and state-of-the-art methods, she has created several important and widely used mouse models for Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, and now focuses on finding ways to stop the spread of the protein tau, which accumulates in tangles in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Robert Heyderman (UCL Infection & Immunity)

Professor Heyderman’s work bridges clinical practice, disease prevention and the fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of infectious disease, as he is Head of UCL’s Research Department of Infection, and is a clinician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH). He leads a Global Health Research Unit on Mucosal Pathogens at UCL, an interdisciplinary partnership between UK and African scientists and policymakers, studying the effectiveness of new and existing vaccines to prevent meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis.

Professor Sam Janes (UCL Medicine)

Professor Janes specialises in respiratory medicine and leads UCL Respiratory, also working in UCLH’s lung cancer team as Consultant in Respiratory Medicine. He is interested in lung cancer pathogenesis and runs several clinical trials aiming to detected lung cancer earlier, including the largest-ever UK lung cancer screening study.

Professor Hugh Montgomery (UCL Medicine)

Professor Montgomery, OBE, is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at UCL and Director of the UCL Centre for Human Health and Performance, as well as Consultant Intensivist at Whittington Hospital. In addition to his research improving intensive care practices, he has research interests into environmental impacts on health, as he co-chairs the international Lancet Countdown, which tracks how climate change is affecting human health.

Professor Caroline Sabin (UCL Institute for Global Health)

Professor Sabin’s research focuses on describing disease progression in people with HIV infection, as well as understanding differences in how well people respond to antiretroviral therapy. For over 20 years, she has led the UK Collaborative HIV Cohort (UK CHIC) Study, a major multicentre study of over 50,000 people with HIV in the UK, generating findings that have informed national and international treatment guidelines – more recently she has set up the POPPY Study to investigate whether HIV contributes to early signs of ageing and, if so, the possible reasons for this.

Professor Russell Viner (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health)

Professor Viner, CBE, is a paediatrician and researcher focusing on population health, policy and health services for children and young people. He is Vice Chair of the NHS England Transformation Board for Children and Young People, has been a member of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) during the Covid-19 pandemic advising on children and young people, and was President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health from 2018 to 2021.

Honorary Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences)

Professor Blakemore was deputy director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience before moving to the University of Cambridge to lead their Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group while maintaining an honorary role at UCL. Her group’s research focuses on the development of social cognition and decision making in the human adolescent brain, and adolescent mental health.

Professor David Lomas, UCL Vice-Provost (Health), commented: “Each of these new Fellows makes a remarkable contribution to UCL Health’s aim of improving lives. By addressing pressing challenges such as neurodegeneration, infectious disease, cancer and intensive care medicine, they have had a material impact on people’s health.

“I am delighted that the Academy of Medical Sciences have recognised their incredible work and offer them all my warmest congratulations.”

Professor Dame Anne Johnson, Co-Director of UCL Health of the Public and President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, praised all the new Fellows, saying: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome these 60 experts to the Fellowship to help to address the major health challenges facing society.

“Each of the new Fellows has made important contributions to the health of our society, with a breadth of expertise ranging from the physical and mental health of young people to parasitic diseases and computational biology.

“The diversity of biomedical and health expertise within our Fellowship is a formidable asset that in the past year has informed our work on critical issues such as tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the health impacts of climate change, addressing health inequalities, and making the case for funding science. The new Fellows of 2022 will be critical to helping us deliver our ambitious 10-year strategy that we will launch later this year.”

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