Professorship scheme awardees

Our AMS Professorship scheme is supporting newly appointed Professors to relocate and settle in the UK. Meet our awardees and learn how they hope to use their awards.

The Academy of Medical Sciences Professorship scheme seeks to support biomedical and healthcare researchers who have recently moved, or soon will move, to the UK from overseas to take up a full Professorship. Typically aimed at those in their first professorial role, the scheme reflects the Academy’s ambition to build capacity at the early-leadership career stage. The awards cover a period of up to five years and offer a maximum of £500,000 in funding. This money can be used flexibly and is intended to support the research of the applicant during the early years of their post. The scheme is generously supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Professor Emila Rugamika Chimusa, Professor of Bioinformatics, Northumbria University
AMS Professorship Round 9 awardee – awarded in 2023

Emile joined Northumbria University in 2022 as Professor of Bioinformatics.

Emile’s research builds on his strong mathematics and bioinformatics background and focuses on the development of methods and tools pertinent to human genetic diversity and admixture, with the objective of uncovering the role of genetics and environment in determining susceptibility to disease. This complements ongoing laboratory studies at the Department of Applied Sciences at Northumbria. Emile leads projects examining multiple factors that reduce current cross-population transferability, generalisability and portability in disease risk prediction. This includes work on risk stratification in diverse ethnicities and the development of software packages to disentangle ancestry-specific contributions to genetic liability for complex diseases.

The AMS Professorship award is a breakthrough that will enable Emile to build an interdisciplinary research team in the UK, with a focus on developing a novel framework for disease risk prediction and risk stratification in diverse ethnicities using a range of Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches. The team will explore the clinical utility of this framework in real-world scenarios and, as a proof-of-concept, the patient benefits in predicting and performing risk stratification on prostate cancer, cardiometabolic traits and joint replacement. Emile will also help strengthen UK networks combining academic experts in AI/statistical genetics with wider health and clinical researchers, as well as maintaining existing African networks. This will deliver a step-change in disease risk prediction and risk stratification in diverse ethnicities.


Professor Christine Goffinet, Professor of Virology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
AMS Professorship Round 9 awardee – awarded in 2023

Christine relocated from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) in September 2023.

Combining her interests in virology and immunology, Christine investigates cell-intrinsic innate immune mechanisms and how human pathogenic viruses successfully antagonise them, with the goal of developing antivirals. Combining single-cell omics and functional assays, her research project seeks to gain a better understanding of how innate immunity influences HIV-1 latency establishment, maintenance and reversal, an important prerequisite for advancing currently ineffective HIV-1 cure strategies. At LSTM, Christine and her team aim to develop new lines of experimental research that result in reducing the impact of viral diseases relevant to the most under-resourced populations , by working in international collaborations and in partnership with affected communities.

The AMS Professorship award will boost Christine´s start at LSTM and support her aim to translate insights into HIV-1 latency regulation into clinically testable hypotheses for functional cure of HIV-1. It will also help to build an interdisciplinary research team, with the important goals of conducting excellent science and mentoring upcoming generations of scientists in the fields of virology and immunology.

Professor Simon Johnson, Professor of Translational Bioscience, Northumbria University
AMS Professorship Round 9 awardee – awarded in 2023

Dr Simon Johnson recently relocated from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital to Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne. Simon earned degrees from Oregon State University and the University of Washington, and performed post-doctoral studies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Simon’s laboratory research programme is focused on the role of mitochondria in health and disease, with two primary lines of study: the pathobiology of genetic mitochondrial disease and the basic biology of volatile anaesthetics. In particular, Simon is focused on understanding the processes that mediate the complex pathogenesis of diseases arising from lesions in genes encoding mitochondrial components. Mitochondrial diseases are a large and highly clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of disorders. These diseases are linked by the involvement of genes involved in normal mitochondrial function, but clinical symptoms vary widely and disease mechanisms have been very poorly understood. Recently, Simon’s group has shown that in at least some forms of mitochondrial disease, such as Leigh syndrome, the most common paediatric form, symptoms are mediated by immune responses and targeting the immune system can prevent disease without needing to rescue mitochondrial function. 

The AMS Professorship award will enable Simon to probe the factors involved in immune activation using high-throughput targeted NanoString profiling, spatial transcriptomics and bioinformatic analysis, and will allow for development of ex-vivo methods for studying mitochondrial dysfunction mediated immune activation. In addition, the AMS Professorship provides many networking opportunities that will allow him to begin to explore the conservation of disease pathogenesis among other forms of mitochondrial dysfunction.


Professor Ian Kelleher, Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh
AMS Professorship Round 8 awardee – awarded in 2023

Ian Kelleher joined the University of Edinburgh in 2022 as Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. His research aims to improve early identification of risk for severe mental illness, in particular during key windows of sensitivity for adolescent brain development. His team takes a data driven approach to identifying risk for disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder using large scale healthcare register datasets, general population research and clinical studies. As a physician scientist, he also works clinically as a consultant psychiatrist in specialist NHS child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

The AMS Professorship will support the establishment of a specialist mental health register-based research team at the University of Edinburgh, which will harness Scotland’s world-leading healthcare registers to drive innovation in youth mental health research. It will also support ongoing collaboration with world-leading Scandinavian register-based research teams, including at the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Oulu, where he is adjunct professor.


Professor Giorgio Tasca, Professor of Neuromuscular Science, Newcastle University