Imperial’s COVID-19 response leaders showcased and celebrated the College’s ability to have a huge impact in addressing global challenges
Throughout 2022 Imperial has been marking a quarter century of achievement in medical education, research and impact. This month, the College welcomed back alumni from its Faculty of Medicine and the historic London medical schools that merged to form it 25 years ago for a special event.
As part of these celebrations, an exciting panel of COVID-19 experts came together to explain what they think makes Imperial such a special place, reflecting on why they and their colleagues have been able to achieve so much at the College.
Opening the evening, Professor Peter Openshaw, Proconsul and Professor of Experimental Medicine, spoke of his pride of being a longstanding member of the Imperial community: “I can honestly say that we are one of the world’s greatest medical schools. Between us all, we’ve made it what it is today.”
Introducing the main discussion, Dean of Imperial Faculty of Medicine, Professor Jonathan Weber, said: “You really have a stellar panel here, as these are the people who have been informing governments around the world about COVID-19 and indeed other epidemics over the years.”
Professor Wendy Barclay OBE, Head of the Department of Infectious Disease and prominent SAGE participant, said: “It’s been a tremendous honour to be involved in trying to use some of my scientific knowledge for the purposes of informing people better about viruses and where they go.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Imperial College for hosting me for so long to do my research. That’s the sort of research that needs a lot of help. I couldn’t do it in many other places in the world.
Talking about the hugely influential epidemiological work he led, Professor Neil Ferguson, Director of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis and Jameel Institute at Imperial, said: “We’re now one of the largest and best-known analysis and modelling centres globally. We very much see our mission not just as basic science - understanding transmission dynamics and the impacts of control measures - but translating that into improved policy.”
Describing his team’s response to the pandemic, Professor Amir Sam, Head of Imperial College School of Medicine, said: “We used Covid as a catalyst to bring about transformative change in a number of domains. In admissions, we now have more than a quarter of our students from widening participation backgrounds. In teaching, we were the first to pioneer the use of augmented reality in a virtual teaching round for medical students. We’re now using virtual reality to further improve our graduates’ preparedness for practice.”
Imperial’s new President, Professor Hugh Brady, spoke of his own time in north west London and his long-held respect for medicine at Imperial: “I entered academic medicine based on the inspiration I received as medical student in 1981, when I took a six-week elective at the Hammersmith Hospital—it was a fantastic experience and it’s lovely to be back.”
The Institute of Infection
Guests also learned about Imperial’s vision for the future of multidisciplinary infection research from the leaders of the College's newest Global Challenge Institute.
Professor Charles Bangham, Co-Director of the Insitute of Infection, said: “One of the real strengths of Imperial is the juxtaposition of clinical medicine and biology with first-class physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics.”
Institute Co-Director, Professor Faith Osier, said: “With the Institute, the real goal is to break down the barriers that keep us in silos that limit our ambition. We will energize the best scientists to work across disciplines to solve global challenges.”
Summing up, Professor Weber said: “Through evenings like this—where you have a chance to meet researchers and clinicians who are really shaping the future of medicine—we really want to foster a lifelong relationship with our alumni.”
A recording of the presentations and panel discussion is available to watch online.
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