Imperial researchers have been recognised for their services to medicine, public health and climate innovation in the 2024 New Year Honours list.
Professor Dame Molly Stevens, from Imperial’s Departments of Materials and Bioengineering, has received a DBE for services to medicine. Professor Mala Rao from the School of Public Health received a CBE for services to public health, the NHS, and to equality and diversity, and Professor Richard Templer from the Department of Chemistry and Imperial’s Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment received an OBE for services to climate innovation.
Also honoured is Imperial alumna Dame Marit Mohn (MSc Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology 1973), who donated £25m to Imperial to create the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing. She receives a DBE for services to philanthropy.
Professor Dame Molly Stevens
Dame Molly Stevens is Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine in the Departments of Materials and Bioengineering, and the Research Director for Biomedical Material Sciences at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, based at Imperial since 2004. In 2023 she was appointed the John Black Professor of Bionanoscience at the University of Oxford and she retains a part-time professorship at Imperial.
Professor Stevens leads an internationally recognised team, The Stevens Group, and has founded multiple spin-out companies. The highly interdisciplinary Group is pioneering state of the art research focused on tissue engineering, efficient drug delivery, and more sensitive screening for diseases. Her innovations are helping to democratise and personalise healthcare with ultrasensitive, cost-effective, user-friendly and mobile-connected diagnostic technologies, while solving key problems in regenerative medicine and advanced therapeutics.
I would like to thank my incredible team of researchers and staff who inspire me every day towards the mission of transforming healthcare through biomaterials technologies. Professor Molly Stevens
Professor Stevens holds numerous leadership positions including Director of the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform Hub for Smart Materials which brings together over 10 different universities developing translational biomaterials for advanced therapeutics and regenerative medicine.
Professor Stevens is Fellow of eight UK Societies including the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering and is Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering.
She said: “I would like to thank my incredible team of researchers and staff who inspire me every day towards the mission of transforming healthcare through biomaterials technologies. All the advances that we have made into the design of new biosensing, therapeutics and regenerative medicine technologies are the result of strong teamwork both inside the lab and through to our external collaborators and key industrial partners. A key focus has been, and will continue to be, designing effective yet accessible technologies that can help in democratising access to healthcare."
Professor Mala Rao, CBE
Professor Mala Rao is Director of the Ethnicity and Health Unit and Senior Clinical Fellow, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial’s School of Public Health, and Vice Chair of WaterAid UK. She is also Clinical Adviser on Race Equality to the General Medical Council and was formerly Medical Adviser to NHS England on Workforce Race Equality. Her career has spanned public health practice, policy, research and training and her most impactful achievements have been in workforce development, strengthening health systems and environmental health in the UK and overseas.
Professor Rao is a recognised champion of climate action, safe water and sanitation and gender equity and is also globally respected for her advocacy of race equality and research on the intersection between race, health and climate. Her research also investigates the impact of climate change on mental health and eco-anxiety. She is chair of WHO South East Asia Region’s Expert Group on the Environmental Determinants of Climate Change and Health.
Professor Rao has worked closely with the Indian, UK and other governments and academia, the World Health Organization and frontline health staff to help reform health care policies and practice, benefiting millions of disadvantaged people.
I am especially grateful for the award because it brings publicity to the public health causes I have been deeply committed to addressing throughout my career Professor Mala Rao
She was born and raised in India and studied medicine in Delhi where she was inspired to specialise in public health. After completing postgraduate training at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and North East Thames Region, Professor Rao spent 17 years as an NHS consultant and later Director of Public Health. Deeply committed to addressing health inequalities, she highlighted higher infant mortality rates in young army families in the UK in the 1980s, compelling the provision of maternal social support in an era when the social determinants of health were not acknowledged. In 1997, she established England’s first evidence-based cancer network, having persuaded 120 clinicians in her health authority to work with her towards this common goal.
In 2003, she became the Head of Public Health Workforce for England, at the Department of Health, London. Her ‘Teaching Public Health Networks’ programme evolved into the UK Healthy Universities Network.
She then spent six years in India, where she served as inaugural Director of Public Health Foundation of India's first Indian Institute of Public Health from 2008 till 2011, and led several research and development projects aimed at improving access to good quality health care for the poor.
Professor Rao is widely published and is the recipient of several awards, including being made an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen in 2013 for services to public health in the UK and overseas.
She said: “I feel both humbled as well as thrilled to be awarded a CBE. The news was quite overwhelming at first, but I look forward to being able to share it with family, friends and colleagues. I am especially grateful for the award because it brings publicity to the public health causes I have been deeply committed to addressing throughout my career and that I will continue to advocate for in the coming years."
Professor Richard Templer OBE
Richard Templer is Emeritus Professor of Climate Innovation at Imperial and is based in the Department of Chemistry and the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment.
Before this work, he was head of the Chemistry Department, the co-founder and first Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Biology, and a founding member of Imperial’s Membrane Biophysics Platform. He finished his term as Head of Chemistry in 2008 and turned his attention to supporting innovators finding solutions to climate change.
In 2010, Professor Templer was part of a successful bid to the European Institute for Innovation and Technology to create the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), and he became the Director of Climate-KIC UK and European Director of Education. He and his team created a programme of education to inspire climate innovators and entrepreneurs and developed and ran the UK Cleantech Accelerator.
My journey from conventional academic to someone who helps others to find solutions to climate change has been one that I took with a community of colleagues, hundreds of them. Professor Richard Templer
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, Professor Templer co-founded Undaunted (a collaboration with the Royal Institution) which has allowed Imperial to continue to support climate change and sustainability innovation. Undaunted's activities catalyse and support the development of people and businesses that address the challenges of climate change and unsustainable practices. It does this through programmes of support and education for climate innovators and entrepreneurs from within and without the College. Uniquely it connects them to the College’s science and engineering community, bringing Imperial’s expertise, talent and networks to bear.
The Climate-KIC education programme trained 2,000 postgraduate students from across the world in the arts of environmentally sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship. This led on to the creation of a global climate innovation competition, Climathon, that runs to this day. The UK Cleantech Accelerator (renamed the Greenhouse) has so far funded and supported over 150 new cleantech businesses that have between them raised over $1bn in the past decade. These businesses are in over 30 countries and include a winner of the Earth Shot Prize, Notpla.
In addition, Professor Templer is a member of the London Sustainable Development Commission, where he has led its work on Cleantech Innovation.
This has resulted in Mayoral environmental, economic and spatial planning policy measures to support the creation of a Cleantech Innovation Cluster in London and an initiative to increase female participation in cleantech innovation.
Professor Templer said: “When I heard that I was being considered for the OBE for my work in climate innovation my first (and still abiding) feeling was that my role in all of this was small. My journey from conventional academic to someone who helps others to find solutions to climate change has been one that I took with a community of colleagues, hundreds of them. Academics at Imperial and beyond who gave me the best education I could have hoped for, staff without whom nothing would have worked, supporters in the business world who were brave enough to open their doors to climate innovators, politicians and policy makers who decided to help us change the economy, students who joined us in our adventures to create that sustainable economy and last but not absolutely not least, those inventors and innovators who decided that they would take the risk of creating a new business that would take the world in a new and better direction. This OBE is for all of you.”
Dame Marit Mohn
Dame Marit Mohn (MSc Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology 1973) is a supporter of education and community development in West London and a longstanding friend and donor to Imperial College London.
Thanks to her £25 million gift, Imperial created the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, which is a hub for research, education and community engagement.
The centre unites expertise from across Imperial, community partners, local authorities and health and care organisations to pursue research and education on the understanding and prevention of children’s health issues. It is founded on the premise that all children deserve the best chances in life.
Through her foundation, the Mohn Westlake Foundation, Dame Marit and her trustees have also given £4m to help establish and support The Invention Rooms – the College’s community innovation space in White City. She has also supported schools programmes at The Wohl Reach Out Lab, enabled refurbishment of the Central Library, provided laboratory equipment in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and created three Marit Mohn PhD Scholarships, endowed scholarships in Chemical Engineering.
In addition, Dame Marit has supported the Royal Opera House (ROH) since 2011, donating £6.7 million to ROH Learning and Participation, the education arm of its work. Her other philanthropy is extensive across education and the arts as well as culture, science, heritage and the advancement of health. To date, she has donated over £100 million.
Across the arts sector, she is a leading educational philanthropist for the National Theatre’s Connections, Let’s Play, New Views, Schools Touring, Speak Up, London Screen Academy, Sadlers Wells and the Rose Theatre in Kingston where she was a board member for many years. Hundreds of thousands of children have directly benefited as a result of her educational philanthropy. Her philanthropy extends nationwide to BookTrust, Tutor Trust, Place2Be, Shout, Oak National Academy and the Royal Horticultural Society education programme.
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