A year we won't forget

Celebrating the impact of philanthropy
in 2019–20

Person holding up a visor

Thank you

To everyone who gave to Imperial in 2019–20, I offer my deepest thanks. All of us at the College are so proud of the many ways in which our alumni, friends and donors fortify our teaching and research, and we could not be more grateful.

Michael Murphy Vice-President (Advancement)

Michael Murphy Vice President (Advancement)

Michael Murphy Vice President (Advancement)

Whether you’re new to our donor community or an old friend, whether your gift was large or small, your contribution makes a real difference. Together, you have given £39.5 million in support of Imperial’s mission to pursue excellence in research and education for the benefit of society – a mission that has felt all the more critical during these difficult and uncertain times. I know how much it means to our students to have alumni and friends helping them to learn and grow, and how much our academics appreciate your faith in their work. I have been so inspired by the way our community has come together, and by the generosity shown. I hope you are likewise inspired by all we have achieved.

Celebrating the impact of philanthropy and connecting our donors with College life are incredibly important to us. I look forward to being able to welcome you to Campus again in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, I hope the stories to follow show just how impactful your gifts are and how much they are appreciated. 

Best wishes,
Michael Murphy
Vice President (Advancement)

Your support in action

Whether you are providing access to a world-class education, enabling cutting-edge research, or helping young people on their path to university, your gifts touch the lives of many. Here are just some of the ways your support is making a difference. 

Student with phone-controlled rover

Supporting our students

Gifts to bursaries, scholarships and prizes recognise talent and hard work, remove barriers to higher education, and enrich the university experience.

Giving freedom through the President’s Scholarship Fund

Your support for the President’s Scholarship Fund gives students the financial freedom to explore skills and learning outside the lecture theatre. For medical students like Joshua Xu, it’s an opportunity to volunteer and gain new patient-facing skills.

 “My scholarship meant I could afford to join a lot more societies than I initially planned. I volunteered with the Imperial College Paediatrics Society Play Team at St Mary’s Hospital, working on children’s infection wards. Playing Jenga and noughts and crosses with the children was really rewarding – they were always so eager to play! Games distracted them from their illness and isolation, and when they played they seemed to forget their pain. I was able to improve their quality of life and ease the stress on their parents. 

I’d like to thank the donors so much – I’ve had the freedom to do so many different things through my scholarship and without your generous support this would not have been possible.”

Relieving pressures

A donor-funded bursary provided chemistry student Milly O’Sullivan with the financial assistance she needed to focus on her studies fully.

“Without the bursary, I wouldn’t have been
able to survive at university. I didn’t feel like I had enough time for a job – during certain times of the year I studied 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The bursary took the pressure off and enabled me to complete the year-long Management component of my course at the Business School. I’d like to use both my business and science knowledge in my career, so I’m considering patent attorney training or helping to launch ‘orphan’ drugs like new cell or gene therapies. Thank you for allowing me the option to study at such an amazing university!”

Enhancing experiences

Thanks to your support, medical student Abeku Koomson was able to cover the costs of living in London and take part in electives that enhanced his university experience.

“The bursary I received has been so useful. Without it I would have really struggled, and I am very grateful for it.

I’ve always had an interest in the science of the human body – how it works and how disease can be treated. Clinical medicine is my favourite part of my course. Last year, I did an elective in the north of England, assisting on an orthopaedic ward. I hadn’t been in an orthopaedic theatre before, so this gave me an exact understanding of what being a consultant involves. The bursary paid for my travel and accommodation – I wouldn’t have been able to do the elective without that support.

When you see medical conditions in real life, you memorise them so much better than by reading textbooks. The bursary is really helping me gain that real-life understanding. Thank you so much for your contributions, it has really made a difference to my university experience.”

Hear more from Abeku and his fellow students in this short video.

Portrait of student Joshua Xu

Joshua Xu, President's Scholar (Medicine)

Joshua Xu, President's Scholar (Medicine)

Portrait of student Milly O'Sullivan

Milly O’Sullivan (Chemistry with Management)

Milly O’Sullivan (Chemistry with Management)

Portrait of student Abeku Koomson

Abeku Koomson (Medicine)

Abeku Koomson (Medicine)

Driving impactful research

By creating posts and programmes, or funding priority projects, philanthropy fuels Imperial’s world-class research.

Philanthropic support helps build the pipeline of research talent needed to find solutions to global challenges such as climate change.

In 2019–20, we were able to offer two students the opportunity to gain experience of battery technology and energy storage research, thanks to support from the Faraday Institution. The new Faraday Institution Scholars Programme aims to give students from underrepresented groups the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences, while boosting important areas of research. In addition to a bursary of £4,500 per year for four years, the scholarship students received mentoring, coaching and a paid summer internship in one of Imperial’s energy laboratories – with the potential for a placement with a relevant industry partner.

Imperial is a founding member of the Faraday Institution, whose mission is to address battery challenges faced by industry and leverage the UK’s world-class research capabilities. In doing so, the Institution aims to contribute to increasing the speed of uptake of electric vehicles, enhancing economic prosperity, lowering carbon emissions and improving air quality.

The Faraday Institution Scholars scheme is a wonderful programme. It has connected me to experts in the field and given me an opportunity to make my own contribution to the UK’s battery future. I believe this scheme is a great starting point for my career.
Anna Sumrova, Faraday Scholar

Support from the Hadley Trust will enable a leading researcher to investigate ways to directly remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air around us.

Most efforts to reduce CO2 levels focus on preventing the release of new emissions into the atmosphere – through increased renewable energy generation or capturing and storing carbon from the flues of power plants.

That may not be enough to prevent catastrophic climate change.

In 2019, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere surpassed 415 parts per million – the highest it has been for 800,000 years, when the Earth was radically different and far warmer.

New approaches are needed, and that is what The Hadley Trust Fellowship is aiming to support. The recipient will be a talented postdoctoral researcher in Imperial’s Department of Chemical Engineering who will analyse emerging technologies in Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS) – with the aim of identifying the most promising areas for future development. This work will form part of a wider initiative in the department to develop and optimise DACCS technologies.

Illustration of electric vehicle

Empowering the younger generation

Gifts to Imperial’s widening participation programmes help ensure that no young person is held back from reaching their full potential.

Thanks to an £840,000 donation from The Hg Foundation, the College is providing additional support in mathematics to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Mathematics is fundamental to a career in research, engineering, medicine, computing and business. Indeed, leading universities often require an A-level in Further Mathematics to pursue some of these disciplines. Yet many state schools are unable to offer Further Mathematics, and those that do generally see low rates of A or A* grades – largely due to a lack of specialist maths tuition.

A new gift from The Hg Foundation represents an important step in addressing this imbalance, by establishing a new maths outreach programme to raise attainment in A-level Further Mathematics. It builds on the success of Imperial’s mA*ths online learning programme, which has supported the progress of thousands of disadvantaged students in A-level Mathematics.

Over the next three years, the programme will provide intensive support for 450 disadvantaged students, access to online materials for around 2,000 students from all backgrounds, and professional development support for up to 450 Further Mathematics teachers.

Maths student with mentor
Guests talking at the Queen's Tower Society celebration event

The Queen’s Tower Society brings together those who have chosen to pledge a legacy gift to Imperial. Members gathered for an afternoon of tea, cake and music in October 2019.

The Queen’s Tower Society brings together those who have chosen to pledge a legacy gift to Imperial. Members gathered for an afternoon of tea, cake and music in October 2019.

Violinist performing

Imperial student and Ash Music Scholar Elisabeth Daniels provided musical entertainment at the Queen's Tower Society Annual Celebration in 2019.

Imperial student and Ash Music Scholar Elisabeth Daniels provided musical entertainment at the Queen's Tower Society Annual Celebration in 2019.

Lasting legacies

In 2019–20, nearly 60 people made a pledge to leave a gift to Imperial in their will. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has chosen to support the College in this way.

The decision to make a legacy gift is an intensely personal one, reflecting the individual values and principles that people live their lives by. From supporting students in need, to fuelling medical research, legacy donors are choosing to support the priorities that matter most to them.

The College received more than £5 million in legacy gifts in 2019–20 – the most ever in a single year. We are profoundly grateful to all those who chose to remember the College in this very special way, including Mr Ronald Barnes MBE (Mathematics 1966, MSc Mechanical Engineering 1967) who created a scholarship in mathematics and physics, and Mrs Alice Hirst, who established a scholarship for exceptional postdoctoral researchers from Nigeria, in memory of her husband Jack, who taught for many years at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. 

If you would like to speak to someone about remembering Imperial in your will, please contact Anna Wall, Head of Legacy Giving on +44 (0)20 7594 3801.

The fight against COVID-19

When COVID-19 struck, Imperial was fast to respond. Our academics quickly took a leading role in tackling the pandemic, and our staff, students, alumni and friends have been with us all the way.

coronavirus 3D illustration

In 2019–20, a total of £6,818,940 was given in support of Imperial’s work on COVID-19, touching all aspects of our fight against the pandemic. Thanks to your support, the College is having a profound impact across countless aspects of the global coronavirus response. Here are just a few examples of how this has taken shape.

Developing a vaccine

After scientists in China first sequenced and shared the genetic code of the virus that causes COVID-19, a team led by Professor Robin Shattock managed to generate a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and prepare it for first animal trials in just 14 days. Their proposed vaccine is based on years of research by Professor Shattock into self-amplifying RNA technology, which works by injecting new genetic code into a muscle, instructing it to make a protein found on the surface of coronavirus, which triggers a protective immune response. If successful, this new approach would allow millions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to be produced much faster and at a lower cost than traditional vaccines and revolutionise the way vaccines are developed in the future. Philanthropy played a critical role in bringing Imperial’s vaccine candidate through early-stage trials, as not having to wait for government money enabled the team to make quick progress.

910 people gave to the COVID-19
Response Fund, raising £614,203 for 39 projects, which range from finding new treatments, to studying the mental health impacts of the pandemic.

Modelling the pandemic

In 2019, the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J–IDEA) was established with the philanthropic support of Community Jameel to provide real-time data analytics to help guide the global response to health emergencies. The timing now seems propitious. The J–IDEA team, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, quickly became the go-to group for the latest insights and expert advice on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Their landmark reports, informed by the team's expertise in modelling the spread of infectious diseases, are guiding policy around the world, and their planning tools and resources are ensuring vital information is easily accessible to scientists, international agencies and the public alike.

From developing new clinical tools, to finding new links between diseases, the Community Jameel Imperial College COVID-19 Excellence Fund supported high-impact research projects to scale up.

Faster and more reliable tests

It became clear early on that Imperial’s unique strengths in biomedical engineering could bring innovation and leadership to national and international testing efforts. Using unique, proven technology that they originally developed for HIV, Professor Molly Stevens and her team are creating a new, rapid and ultrasensitive diagnostic test specifically tailored to COVID-19. Designed to detect ultra-low concentrations of the virus, the simple hand-held test will enable earlier diagnosis, giving results within 15 minutes in a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ readout – much like a pregnancy test.

Testing and tracing

In April 2020, Imperial was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to lead a major community testing programme across England. The REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission (REACT) is providing the country’s first real-time estimate of the burden of disease. It is also assessing antibody finger-prick tests and using these to estimate how far the virus has spread. Thanks to a £1 million gift from The Huo Family Foundation to REACT, Professor Paul Elliott has been able to convene a cross-disciplinary team of epidemiologists, statisticians, public health specialists, clinicians, virologists and data scientists to design and conduct studies of contact tracing and transmission.

Professor Robin Shattock and Leon Mcfarlane
World map with disease tracking
Portrait of Professor Molly Stevens
Ms Maya Moshe and Dr Jonathon Brown testing serum samples on lateral flow immunoassay kits.

Transforming health

Launched in 2018, the Transforming Health and Wellbeing campaign aims to raise £100 million for Imperial’s School of Public Health. In the past two years, our generous supporters have given more than £54 million, helping to establish a new hub for public health research at Imperial’s White City Campus.

Architect's render of the School of Public Health building

2019 saw the launch of the Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics (J–IDEA), a new rapid response research centre to predict and prevent global health crises. Research at J-IDEA will use data modelling and analytics to counter infectious disease outbreaks and rising levels of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Under the directorship of Professor Neil Ferguson, J-IDEA researchers played a key role in the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. J-IDEA was co-founded by Community Jameel, the global philanthropy established by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel KBE.

Photo of Hassan Jameel (President, Saudi Arabia, Community Jameel), Professor Alice P. Gast (President of Imperial), and Fady Jameel (President, International, Community Jameel)

Hassan Jameel (President, Saudi Arabia, Community Jameel), Professor Alice P. Gast (President of Imperial), and Fady Jameel (President, International, Community Jameel)

Hassan Jameel (President, Saudi Arabia, Community Jameel), Professor Alice P. Gast (President of Imperial), and Fady Jameel (President, International, Community Jameel)

Philanthropic support also enabled two esteemed academic leaders to take up new and prestigious positions within the School of Public Health this year. In December 2019, Professor Mireille Toledano began her appointment as Mohn Chair in Population Child Health and Director of the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing. A leading epidemiologist, Professor Toledano is an expert in environmental exposures in the reproductive period, early life and adolescence. In her new role, she will oversee a vast research programme that focuses on some of the most pressing challenges in children’s health – from obesity and allergies to mental health – while establishing important connections between childhood experiences and health in later life.

Professor Mireille Toledano, Mohn Chair in Population Child Health and Director of the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing.

Professor Mireille Toledano, Mohn Chair in Population Child Health and Director of the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing.

Professor Mireille Toledano, Mohn Chair in Population Child Health and Director of the Mohn Centre for Children’s Health and Wellbeing.

A generous donation from Mr Humphrey Battcock enabled us to appoint Professor Frank Kelly as the inaugural Battcock Chair of Community Health and Policy. A renowned expert in air pollution, Professor Kelly will lead a substantial programme of research on all aspects of air pollution, from toxicology through to science policy. Professor Kelly is a top adviser to the government and leads the London Air Quality Network, which has been monitoring air pollution and providing information to scientists, policy makers and the public since 1993. Professor Kelly and his team joined Imperial in July 2020, establishing one of the world’s leading centres for air pollution research within the School of Public Health. They will be based in a new custom-built laboratory on the White City Campus, which includes a data visualisation suite funded by a generous donation.

The impact of giving

These stories are taken from Imperial’s Annual Fundraising Report 2019–20. They highlight just a few of the many ways in which our supporters make a difference to the College and our community. Every donation, large or small, has an impact and we offer our deepest thanks to everyone who gave. If you would like to receive a full copy of the report, either by email or post, please get in touch with us at giving@imperial.ac.uk. To find out more about giving to Imperial College London, please visit www.imperial.ac.uk/giving