Imperial College London

Four Imperial scientists elected Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences

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Four Imperial scientists elected to the prestigious Academy of Medical Sciences

Imperial Professors Adnan Custovic, Tim Hallett, Oliver Howes, and Neena Modi are among 50 leading biomedical and health scientists elected this year.

The Academy of Medical Sciences has elected 50 of the UK’s leading figures within biomedical and health sciences to their esteemed Fellowship, it has been announced today.

This year’s new Fellows have been selected for their ‘exceptional contributions to advancing biomedical science'.

Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine, praised the new Fellows: “I am extremely proud to once again see our community so broadly recognised by these most distinguished of clinical medicine awards.
 
“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all our new Fellows, at a time where the value of expertise in science and medicine has rarely been more evident. Their work, spanning paediatrics and child health, epidemiology, and the molecular mechanisms of mental ill-health, gives an insight into the range of world-leading talent we are privileged to have make up our Faculty of Medicine.”

Professor Adnan Custovic, National Health and Lung Institute

Professor Adnan Custovic, National Health and Lung InstituteAdnan Custovic is Professor of Paediatric Allergy at Imperial’s National Heart and Lung Institute. Professor Custovic’s work focusses on the origins and prevention of asthma and allergy in children, and has informed and changed national and international guidelines on the prevention and management of asthma and allergies in children.

He said: “It is an honour and a great privilege to be elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences at such an extraordinary moment for medical science. The current pandemic reminds us that only through scientific endeavours will we be able to overcome the great challenges facing mankind, from Covid-19 to the climate crisis and beyond.

“My goal in medical research is to understand asthma heterogeneity and facilitate the provision of personalised, mechanism-based treatments, for the benefit of our patients. But there is a broader picture here: as a community, we must remove the divisions separating clinical research, basic science and data science. I believe that only by creating a multidisciplinary community of scientists and bringing them together around technological advances will we push the frontiers of knowledge forward. A fundamental shift towards team science will provide a powerful catalyst for improved patient outcomes.

“The Academy, through its mission to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society, is unique in bringing together and representing the diversity of medical science. It is therefore uniquely placed to advance the medical sciences, and the need to do so is now perhaps greater than ever. For these reasons, I am humbled by the decision to elect me to the fellowship of the Academy.”

Professor Tim Hallet, School of Public Health

Professor Tim Hallet, School of Public HealthTim Hallett is Professor of Global Health at Imperial’s School of Public Health, Associate Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, and a member of the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J-IDEA).

Professor Hallett, whose work focusses on the development and application of mathematical models for interpreting surveillance data, analysing control trials and planning interventions, said: “I’m thrilled and humbled to be joining the Academy. It was the work of so many members that inspired me to study epidemiology in the first place—in particular, the work done in the 2003 SARS epidemic by those who would become my colleagues, and which is so relevant right now.

“I have tried to work in the same spirit as I have researched some of the major endemic diseases of low and middle income countries. That work has always been important but has never felt so urgent as it does right now, and it will be a privilege to work with colleagues across the Academy in order to understand and combat the current and future challenges.”

Professor Oliver Howes, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences

Professor Oliver Howes, MRC London Institute of Medicine SciencesProfessor Oliver Howes is Head of the Psychiatric Imaging group at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS). He is Visiting Professor at Imperial College London, and Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at King’s College London. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that underly mental illnesses. He aims to identify new targets for drug development and biomarkers to improve patient care.

Professor Howes welcomed the opportunity for fresh collaborations, which he hopes will be enhanced by his fellowship: “I am thrilled to be selected to become a Fellow of the Academy. My work aims to improve understanding and treatment for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Shockingly, given the progress in other areas, there has not been a new drug approach to treating schizophrenia for over sixty years. My work with the talented researchers and clinicians in my lab has identified new targets to treat schizophrenia, and we are now taking these into clinical studies to change this.

“This requires multi-disciplinary work, which has only been possible through the unique environment at the LMS. In the same way, the Academy brings together researchers from across medicine, and I look forward to fostering collaborations across medicine as a Fellow of the Academy. I am also passionate about supporting young clinicians to develop their research skills, and this is something I hope to be able to continue through the Academy.”

Professor Neena Modi, School of Public Health

Professor Neena Modi, School of Public HealthNeena Modi is Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial’s School of Public Health, and one of the UK’s leading experts in child health. Honorary Consultant in Neonatal Medicine at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Professor Modi heads the Neonatal Medicine Research Group at Imperial, and the Neonatal Data Analysis Unit.

Professor Modi, who is President of the Medical Women’s Federation, and immediate past-president of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “I’m honoured to be elected a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences—a high point without question! Neonatal medicine has been a wonderful career, providing both intellectual stimulus and the huge satisfaction and privilege of benefiting patient care.

“Getting new-born health right has implications for population health and hence national prosperity. Why for example, are preterm babies at high risk in young adult life of chronic diseases such as diabetes - typical of much older populations? My frustration at the slow pace and under-representation of babies in biomedical research led me to develop the National Neonatal Research Database - now a mature, award-winning, globally unique resource widely used for national and international health services, clinical and policy research. The information in the database will also be used to support studies examining the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines and treatments in new-born babies.

My message for anyone starting out in medical science is, do what interests you; for those of us who’ve been around longer, I’d say, let’s get better at influencing health policy and diminishing health inequalities. I look forward to working with the Academy to help build a brighter and better future after these tragic times.”

Praise from the Academy

Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said: “This year our new Fellows announcement happens amidst a global health crisis. Some will face the challenge of how to continue to lead on some of the most pressing health challenges our society faces beyond coronavirus, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Others have joined the global research effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, whether that be through working out how to treat those with the virus, joining efforts to develop a vaccine, or looking to limit the impact of the pandemic more broadly on our physical and mental health.

“Never has there been a more important time to recognise and celebrate the people behind ground-breaking biomedical and health research, working harder than ever to further knowledge and protect patients and the public. It brings me great pleasure to congratulate the new Fellows, and see our Fellowship grow to even greater heights of evidence-based advice, leadership and expertise.”

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