Imperial experts recognised in New Year’s Honours


Buckingham Palace

Imperial’s academics are among those to be recognised in the 2023 New Year’s Honours List.

Professor Sir David Nunes Nabarro has been made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St. George (KCMG) for his services to global health.

Sir David Nunes Nabarro

Sir David is Co-Director and Chair of Global Health at Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, which he was appointed in 2019. He is also Strategic Director of the Swiss-based social enterprise, 4SD (Skills Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development), established in 2017, training and mentoring leaders for sustainable development.  

In March 2020, he was appointed Special Envoy of WHO Director-General on COVID-19. 

"I was so surprised when I received the news in a phone call from the British Ambassador in Geneva.  I am joyful that our focus on global health and development issues has been recognized in this way." Sir David Nunes Nabarro Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation

Reacting to the news about his Knighthood, Sir David said: "I was so surprised when I received the news in a phone call from the British Ambassador in Geneva.  I am joyful that our focus on global health and development issues has been recognized in this way. It means a lot for work underway at IGHI and in 4SD on the global cost of living crisis, on improving people’s health and food systems, and on health and resilience in the climate emergency."

Emeritus Professor Sunil Shaunak OBE

Emeritus Professor Sunil Shaunak has been recognised for his services to infectious diseases and drug discovery with an OBE. 

Professor Sunil Shaunak, Emeritus Professor in Infectious Diseases

Professor Shaunak works in Imperial College London's Department of Infectious Disease and is based at the College’s Hammersmith campus. Over the past 40 years he has developed cost-effective new medicines for Hepatitis C, leishmaniasis, AIDS and Shigella. As co-Founder of the Imperial spinout, PolyTherics (renamed Abzena when it was listed on AIM), he expanded the work into antibody drug conjugates. 

Professor Shaunak has championed the international public debate about the need for equitable global access to affordable medicines. These can be modelled on expensive drugs, but structurally modified to make them both patentable (he has 23 granted patents) and cost-effective as new medicines. His work shows how university-based innovation can be turned into useful and affordable global healthcare products.

Responding to the news about his OBE, Professor Shaunak said: “We set out to turn our blue-sky research into cost-effective new medicines and called our approach Ethical Pharmaceuticals. It’s now widely accepted for enabling better access to affordable healthcare products. Through our work, we’ve contributed to improving people’s health worldwide. I’m delighted to be honoured in this way and give thanks to colleagues who have helped turn ideas into reality.” 

Professor Jonathan Waxman OBE 

Professor Jonathan Waxman, Emeritus Professor of Oncology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London has been made an OBE for services to 

Professor Waxman is a clinician who has helped develop new treatments for cancer and who directed a laboratory research group that  comprised 40 scientists whose focus was and is the development of new cancer treatments and tests. 

He has raised funds for the building of the Hammersmith Cancer Centre at Imperial whose spirit aims to combine the best of conventional and alternative therapies.

He founded Prostate Cancer UK the first UK based national organisation promoting research and patient support for this condition which affects 1 man in 8. The Charity currently raises £35 million per annum and employs 200 people. He has played a significant role in bringing prostate cancer to the forefront of public attention. As a result prostate cancer has emerged from the shadows and is talked about and appropriately funded.

He also helped establish an All Party Parliamentary Group to improve cancer treatment and rationalise cancer research throughout the UK. He has developed and led successful media campaigns to rationalise cancer treatments and change government health policy.

Reacting to the news of his award, Professor Waxman said: "I was thrilled to receive this award, which acknowledges both the work done at Imperial to help men with prostate cancer and the evolution of Prostate Cancer UK to become the UK's biggest men's health charity." 

Professor Justin Cobb CVO

Professor Justin Cobb was awarded a CVO by His Majesty the King in recognition of his role as orthopaedic surgeon to the King's parents and the rest of the Royal Household over the last 15 years.

Professor Cobb is Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery in the Department of Surgery & Cancer. He runs the MSk Lab in the Sir Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering (BME) Hub on the White City Campus, a building devoted to biomedical engineering, housing engineers, scientists and clinicians working on many projects, from regenerative medicine to neurotechnology and dementia research. 

Professor Cobb said: "The real honour was being able to help in the care of our late monarch and her husband. They both appreciated that surgery is demanding, particularly in the aging body. Academic surgery is even more demanding - we have to develop and maintain surgical skills at the same time as raising the funding to enable innovation. There is a fine balance to be struck in surgical science: care of our patients has to compete with the quest for a significant value."

He continued: "In addition to this honour, the NIHR has just awarded us a £1.4m grant to carry out a randomised surgical trial of H1. So it has been a wonderful start to the year."

Honours for alumni

Musician, astrophysicist and animal welfare advocate, Brian May (Physics 1968, PhD 2007) was awarded a Knighthood for services to music and to charity. After completing a degree in physics, Sir Brian began his PhD at Imperial in 1968, but when the launch of the ‘Queen II’ album in 1974 led to international recognition, he left the College to focus on the band. In 2007 he returned to Imperial and gained his doctorate in astronomy – 36 years after starting his thesis. Queen’s first concert in London took place at Imperial’s Student Union on 18 July 1970.  

Professor Gillian Wright (PhD Physics 1984) was awarded a CBE for services to astronomy through international missions. Professor Wright is Director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

Three alumni have been awarded OBEs: Dr Richard Jones (Mathematics 1983, PhD 1987), Met Office Science Fellow and prominent author for the IPCC, for services to climate science; Libby Jackson (Physics 2002), Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency, for services to the space sector; and Dr Michael Smith (St Mary’s Hospital Medical School 1973), founder of Ear Aid Nepal, for services to deaf and vulnerable people in Nepal.

Three alumni have been awarded MBEs: Jenifer White (Wye College 1983), Historic England’s National Landscape Advisor, for services to heritage and to historic parks and gardens; Dr Joanne Lawson (MSc Science Communication 2005), head of Procurement Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade; and Professor David (Barney) Lerner (MSc Civil Engineering 1975), for services to the environment in Bradford, West Yorkshire.


Laura Singleton

Laura Singleton
Communications Division


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