Members of the Department of Infectious Disease have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the College.
The 2022 President’s Awards for Excellence were presented at an in-person ceremony at Imperial College London’s South Kensington Campus last week.
Recipients of the Provost's Awards for Excellence – which recognise outstanding contributions in Health and Safety and Animal Research - and the Julia Higgins Medal and Awards were also celebrated at the annual event, along with staff members nominated to attend the Imperial Garden Party.
The President’s Awards for Excellence have four streams: Culture and Community, Education, Research, and Societal Engagement. Those awardees judged to have made particularly exceptional contributions within each category are selected to receive the President’s Medal. Medal winners for each category were revealed live at this year’s celebration.
Championing best practice in animal research
Infectious disease researchers won across the board in the Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Animal Research.
The awards were established in 2014 to celebrate good practice and excellence in animal research by College staff.
Dr Masanori Asai (NC3Rs Training Fellow), Claire Dunican (Research Postgraduate) and Dr Athina Georgiadou (Imperial College Research Fellow) received awards for the application of the 3Rs (refinement, reduction and replacement) in their current or recent work.
Dr Asai, who recently completed his PhD funded by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R), commented that he was “honoured” to receive the award. His work focuses on using caterpillars of the greater
wax moth (Galleria mellonella) as a mycobacterial infection model that could reduce the number of animals used in tuberculosis (TB) research.
Claire Dunican and Dr Athina Georgiadou were recognised for their contributions to a study published earlier this year in the journal eLife, of which they were joint first authors.
On receiving the award, they commented: “We both feel very honoured to receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Animal Research. Our study aimed to identify the most relevant animal models for translational
research using comparative transcriptomics, reducing unnecessary use of animals in models with little relevance.”
Rebecca Frise (now based at Queen Mary Unversity of London) also received an award for her public engagement work. The prize recognises a commitment to interacting with public audiences about the role of animal research in biomedical discovery.
Supporting women in academia
Dr Myrsini Kaforou, Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics, was one of four College staff to receive Julia Higgins Awards. The annual prizes celebrate individuals, groups, and departments that have made a significant contribution to the support of academic women at the College.
Dr Kaforou was recognised by colleagues for creating a supportive and inclusive working group, celebrating females in academia and working tirelessly to provide support to students and members of staff, particularly during the pandemic.
She commented: "I am honoured to receive the Julia Higgins Award for promoting gender equality, and I am very grateful for the nomination by my PhD students.
"Women still face many gender-specific obstacles and challenges in academia, and empowering women and diversity ultimately empowers research and academia.
"We all need to work harder together to address unconscious and implicit bias, as well as gender imbalance in decision-making processes to implement change effectively and at a higher pace."
Outstanding research support
Francesca Piffer, Project Manager for the Digital Diagnostics for Africa (DIDA) Network, received the President’s Award for Research Support Excellence.
The award recognises the beneficial contributions and innovative approaches of research support staff at Imperial.
Francesca was celebrated for her outstanding professionalism and efficiency in managing the complexities of DIDA, which comprises 75 members from 26 organisations in 11 countries. Most recently, she was instrumental in supporting the network in its successful bid for a £3 million Global Health Research Group (GHRG) award. The new award will sustain the network for the next four years, funding ten PhD students and enabling researchers to assess the potential role of digital diagnostics in six African countries.
She commented: “I am humbly thankful for this award and I wish to thank my manager and Lead of the Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network, Dr Aubrey Cunnington, not only for nominating me, but also for inspiring me every day to give my best and always supporting me in doing so.
“Being part of Imperial’s vibrant community of researchers and professionals is one of the best experiences of my life. I am honoured and proud to have the opportunity to support as Project Manager an amazing international group of experts committed to developing game-changing diagnostics technology, demonstrating the power of working collaboratively across borders to tackle major global health challenges such as malaria or other neglected tropical diseases.
“I am really excited for the launch of the newly-funded NIHR Global Health Research Group on Digital Diagnostics for African Health Systems, and I will do my best to support this group and facilitate its work with new collaborative opportunities and creative solutions.”
View the full list of this year’s winners:
- President’s Awards for Excellence in Education
- President’s Awards for Excellence in Research
- President’s Awards for Excellence in Societal Engagement
- Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Animal Research
- Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety
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