Maintain world class core academic disciplines

The strength of our disciplines relies on the individuals within them. In the last year, many of our researchers and academics were recognised for their expertise and achievements.

  • Professor Lesley Regan, Clinical Professor in the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, was made a Dame in the New Year Honours list for services to women’s healthcare.
  • Professors Martin Blunt, Peter Childs, Maja Pantic, and Imperial’s President, Professor Alice Gast, were elected as Fellows to the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • Professors Molly Stevens, Iain McCulloch and George Jackson were made Fellows of the Royal Society.
  • Professor Neil Ferguson, Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J–IDEA) and Head of the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the School of Public Health was named as an International Member of the US National Academy of Medicine; Professor Molly Stevens was named as a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.
  • Professors Adnan Custovic, Tim Hallett, Oliver Howes and Neena Modi were elected as Fellows to the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Encourage multidisciplinary research

Our Academic Strategy builds on excellence in our core disciplinary expertise by identifying and enabling opportunities that reach across departments and faculties.

The Strategy lays out four societal themes – sustainability, health, information and resilience – which bring together research, education and translation activity across our faculties. This focuses efforts to increase fundamental understanding and develop new discoveries.

  • Dr Marco Di Antonio from the Department of Chemistry is part of a research project with the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds that has tracked, for the first time, four-stranded DNA in living human cells. The research team are examining how the structure forms and the role it plays in our cells.
  • Professor Molly Stevens from the Department of Materials worked with researchers from MIT to develop a simple and sensitive urine test that can signal growing tumours in mice. This may lead to earlier detection of cancer and their subsequent treatment; she subsequently turned to development of an ultra-sensitive rapid test for COVID-19.
  • Dr Andrea Crisanti and Dr Alekos Simoni from the Department of Life Sciences have eliminated malaria mosquitoes in the lab through ‘gene drive’ technology. They insert a genetic modification which causes mosquitoes to produce more male offspring, eventually leading to no females being born and a total collapse in the population.
  • Dr Charles Donovan from Imperial College Business School led a report which showed that renewable power is outperforming fossil fuels in US and European markets. The report, published in collaboration with the International Energy Agency, revealed that despite the growing profile of renewables, total investment in clean energy is still not at the level needed to put the world’s energy system on a sustainable path.

Our world leading researchers have also played a vital role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic – from modelling disease transmission and fatalities, developing new technologies to support patients and clinicians, and studying how the disease progresses, to vaccine research, analysing the economic impact of lockdown and proposing ways to build back better in a post-COVID world.

  • Professor Neil Ferguson and the researchers from J-IDEA and the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial published scores of influential papers mapping and predicting the spread of COVID-19, showing the effectiveness of interventions. Their work has informed the response of governments and health services around the world.
  • Professor Robin Shattock from the Department of Infectious Disease is leading the development of a new self-amplifying RNA COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is based on a new approach that causes the body to amplify synthetic strands of virus’ genetic code (called RNA). Preclinical studies have shown that the vaccine produced highly specific antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in mice. The vaccine entered clinical trials in June 2020 and expanded to six additional sites throughout England in July.
  • Professors Paul Elliott and Ara Darzi are leading a major programme as part of the REACT study on home testing for COVID-19, which has tracked the progress of the infection across England. The programme has helped to improve understanding of how people are infected and indicated how many people had recovered since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Professor Peter Openshaw from the National Heart and Lung Institute is one of the researchers leading a major study analysing samples from COVID-19 patients to learn more about the disease and how it progresses. By July 2020, more than 66,000 patients from across the UK had been enrolled in the study.

Embed our educational experience in a vibrant, research-led, entrepreneurial environment

We are committed to delivering a world class education and experience for our students. We want our students to become independent learners who develop highly applicable skills and attributes, and who are curious and driven to continue learning throughout their lives.

We adapted quickly at the start of the lockdown to finish the 2019–20 academic year and started planning for the new one.

  • Final year Medicine students were able to complete their assessments in what is thought to be the world’s first open-book final year medical exam delivered remotely. Head of Undergraduate Medicine, Dr Amir Sam, worked closely with educational technology specialists from the School of Medicine to deliver the assessments on 17 March.
  • While face-to-face teaching was suspended, our team of educational technologists, including those from the College’s Digital Learning Hub, worked with departments to develop materials to support remote teaching.
  • We announced plans in June 2020 to deliver ‘multi mode’ teaching in the autumn term. This combines on campus and remote learning, allowing students to continue their studies and enjoy the university experience safely. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, we have worked to keep students informed of the latest developments at the College and from the UK government through regular, targeted communications. This will continue.

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Public benefit: People