Dr Sophie Rutschmann, Dr Victoria Male, and Prof Danny Altmann were recognised at the inaugural BSI Immunology Awards
Created ‘to celebrate the remarkable achievements of individuals and teams shaping the future of immunology’, the British Society for Immunology (BSI) Immunology Awards were revealed at a ceremony this April.
Prof Danny Altmann and Dr Sophie Rutschmann from the Department of Immunology and Inflammation, and Dr Viki Male from the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction all scooped accolades. Imperial’s Prof Rosemary Boyton, Prof Daniel Davis, Dr Masahiro Ono, and Dr Maggie Trela were also shortlisted for awards.
The BSI Outstanding Ambassador for Immunology Award was jointly awarded to Dr Male and Prof Altmann, recognising their contributions as outstanding ambassadors for immunology in the UK.
Dr Male highlighted a growing public interest in the field: “What’s really great is that suddenly people are interested in immunology. People with no science background can now hold a conversation about T cells and B cells and different antibodies. That wouldn’t have been possible five years ago.
“The kinds of people I talk to have changed a lot in recent months. Everyone who wanted to be vaccinated has now got the vaccine, so I’m spending more time talking to people who have quite strong pre-conceived notions about vaccines being a bad idea.
“I made a very conscious decision early on, that I would rather take the time to talk to ten people who might never agree with me, if there was a chance one of those might be someone who genuinely wanted information. That has informed the whole of my approach.”
Last year Dr Male also won the Imperial President’s Medal for Excellence in Societal Engagement for her work engaging with and helping to inform the public, particularly about COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnancy.
Speaking to the BSI about his award, Prof Altmann said: “The BSI has played a big role in my professional life. I’ve been a member since I was 19 or 20, when I joined in order to hear Rolf Zinkernagel talk at BSI Congress about the work he was doing on how T cells recognise infection.
“That was the moment I really became hooked on immunology and T cells. These days I try to do my bit to communicate about developments in the field and to be an ambassador, so yes, to win an award like this means a lot.”
Dr Sophie Rutschmann, who is Director of Education for the Department of Immunology and Inflammation and the Faculty of Medicine’s Lead for Digital Education, was a joint recipient of the BSI Immunology Teaching Excellence Award. This recognises her status as an exceptional immunology teacher working in a higher education institute in the UK.
Acknowledging the support of the immunology community, Dr Rutschmann said: “Thank you to my peers for nominating me and to the British Society of Immunology for the award. It truly means a lot to get this recognition from experts in the field!
“Thank you also to all my colleagues who contribute, every day, to educating the next generation of immunologists.”
Photos courtesy of the British Society for Immunology
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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Mr Al McCartney
Faculty of Medicine Centre
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 2961
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