50 leading biomedical and health scientists elected to the prestigious Academy Fellowship

The Academy of Medical Sciences has elected 50 of the UK’s most prominent biomedical and health scientists to their Fellowship*, it has been announced today [Wednesday 13 May 2020].

The new Fellows have been chosen for their exceptional contributions to advancing biomedical science via world-leading research discoveries, running national science communication and engagement programmes and translating scientific advances into benefits for patients and the public.

The value of medical science has never been more apparent than during the current coronavirus global health crisis. From testing and vaccine development, to public health and behavioural science, to addressing the impacts of lockdown measures on mental health, biomedical and health scientists are helping to guide the UK through unprecedented challenges.

Many of the Academy’s newly elected Fellows are at the forefront of the efforts to tackle coronavirus, such as Professor Menna Clatworthy FMedSci and Professor Muzlifah Haniffa FMedSci who together are leading Human Cell Atlas studies looking at why the novel coronavirus affects individual people so differently. As the Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute, new Fellow Professor Pontiano Kaleebu FMedSci has been at the forefront of Uganda’s fight against the virus, leading on testing, evaluating new tests and training Uganda’s laboratories to carry out this essential work.  

Several new Fellows have redirected their research efforts to tackle the effects of the pandemic, such as Professor Ludovic Vallier FMedSci, a stem cell expert, who has refocussed part of his team to study the effects of coronavirus on the liver. Professor Tamsin Ford CBE FMedSci, a Professor of Psychiatry, has channelled her expertise into looking at mental health impacts of the pandemic on children and young people. Some new Fellows are using their expertise and leadership in other ways, such as Professor Andy Waters FRSE FMedSci who has loaned materials and infrastructure locally and is working with international partners in Malawi to help with preparedness - demonstrating the collaborative and ‘team science’ nature that the Academy’s Fellowship strives to embody. Others remain focused on important health challenges that must continue to be addressed during the pandemic, or are involved in efforts to ensure the UK will remain at the forefront of science after the pandemic.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:

“I am delighted to welcome these 50 new Fellows into the Academy’s Fellowship. Each one has made their own outstanding contribution to biomedical science, and together they are advancing the health of our society in the UK and internationally. Their work affects us all, from the way we keep healthy through our lifestyle, to how we are treated if we become ill, to the way we receive information about health.

“This year our new Fellows announcement happens amidst a global health crisis. Some will face the challenge of how to continue to lead on some of the most pressing health challenges our society faces beyond coronavirus, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Others have joined the global research effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, whether that be through working out how to treat those with the virus, joining efforts to develop a vaccine, or looking to limit the impact of the pandemic more broadly on our physical and mental health.

“Never has there been a more important time to recognise and celebrate the people behind ground-breaking biomedical and health research, working harder than ever to further knowledge and protect patients and the public.

“It brings me great pleasure to congratulate the new Fellows, and see our Fellowship grow to even greater heights of evidence-based advice, leadership and expertise.”

Professor Neena Modi FMedSci, Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London, said:

“I was bowled over when I heard the wonderful news that I was to be elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

“I work on the use of routine data in research to provide faster patient benefits. I’m proud to have developed and lead the UK National Neonatal Research Database, a unique resource of real-world clinical data on all babies admitted to NHS neonatal units. We have been busy with studies on the impact of the coronavirus on pregnancy and new-born outcomes. The information in the database will also be used to support studies examining the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines and treatments in new-born babies.

 “I have always been an admirer of the Academy’s public engagement work and was delighted when the Academy produced a report on data-driven technologies based on principles developed by patients, the public and healthcare professionals.

“I look forward to working with the Academy to help build a brighter and better future after these tragic times. As Fellows we can play an important role to place science at the centre of health, wellbeing and sustainability for all.”    

Professor Philippa Saunders FRSE FMedSci, Registrar of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“Our health depends on the highest quality biomedical science, something which is even more important with the broad health challenges facing the world today, from pandemics to climate change. The best science requires the best minds from a wide range of backgrounds coming into biomedical science, and importantly moving through to senior and leadership positions.

“I am delighted that our new Fellows of 2020 show increased diversity. Our Fellows of 2020 include the joint highest proportion of Black, Asian and ethnic minority biomedical and health experts ever elected to the Academy, at 12%. 19 of our new Fellows are women, representing 38% of our new Fellows elected in 2020 and equalling last year’s record high number of women elected. We have a broader regional spread, with scientists from beyond the ‘golden triangle’ up from one in four to one in three new Fellows, and a broader international spread, with 28% of our new Fellows coming from countries around the world.” 

Two of the new Fellows are past winners of the Academy’s Foulkes Foundation Medal: Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld FMedSci and Professor Muzlifah Haniffa FMedSci and three others bring important knowledge, insight and expertise from working in the commercial sector.

The new Fellows will be formally admitted to the Academy on 25 June 2020.

- ENDS -

For more information please contact:

Naomi Clarke, Senior Communications Officer, 020 3141 3208, 07903 158979, [email protected]   

Notes for Editors

  1. The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. Our elected Fellows are the UK’s leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service. Our mission is to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society. We are working to secure a future in which:
  • UK and global health is improved by the best research.
  • The UK leads the world in biomedical and health research, and is renowned for the quality of its research outputs, talent and collaborations.
  • Independent, high quality medical science advice informs the decisions that affect society.
  • More people have a say in the future of health and research.

Our work focusses on four key objectives: promoting excellence, developing talented researchers, influencing research and policy and engaging patients, the public and professionals.


  1. This year Fellows were chosen from 415 The eight Sectional Committees met in March to consider potential Fellows for 2020 entry to the Academy. Three nominators from within the Fellowship must back each candidate. The Academy Registrar, Professor Philippa Saunders FRSE FMedSci, Director of Postgraduate Research, University of Edinburgh, oversees the election. 117 candidates were shortlisted for peer review. The election brings the total number of Fellows to 1331.


  1. *Full list of Fellows elected in 2020

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, Director, University College London Institute for Global Health

Professor Robin Allshire FRS FRSE, Wellcome Principal Research Fellow, Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh

Professor James Bainbridge, Professor of Retinal Studies, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Dr Jeffrey Barrett, Chief Scientific Officer, Genomics PLC

Professor David Bennett, Professor of Neurology and Neurobiology and Head of the Division of Neurology, University of Oxford

Professor Peter Brown, Director of the Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit, University of Oxford

Professor Harry Campbell, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Edinburgh

Professor Lucy Chappell, NIHR Research Professor in Obstetrics, King’s College London

Professor Menna Clatworthy FLSW, NIHR Research Professor and Professor of Translational Immunology, University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Professor Charles Craddock CBE, Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit and Professor of Haemato-oncology, University of Birmingham

Professor Peter Cullen, Professor of Biochemistry and Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, University of Bristol

Professor Adnan Custovic, Professor of Paediatric Allergy, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London

Professor Paolo De Coppi, NIHR Professor of Paediatric Surgery, Nuffield Professor of Paediatric Surgery and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and Head of the Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Section, UCL Institute of Child Health

Professor Bart De Strooper, Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute

Professor Stuart Elborn CBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Queen's University Belfast

Dr Helen Firth, Consultant Clinical Geneticist, Cambridge University Hospitals & Honorary Faculty Member, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Professor Ervin Fodor, Professor of Virology, University of Oxford

Professor Tamsin Ford CBE, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge

Professor Peter Friend, Professor of Transplantation, University of Oxford

Dr Felicity Gabbay, Managing Partner, TransScrip LLP

Professor Subrata Ghosh, Director, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Birmingham

Professor Diana Gibb, Professor of Epidemiology and MRC Senior Clinical Scientist, University College London

Professor Keith Godfrey, Professor of Epidemiology & Human Development, University of Southampton

Professor Gerard Graham FRSE, Gardiner Chair of Immunology, University of Glasgow

Professor Timothy Hallett, Professor of Global Health, Imperial College London

Professor Sophie Hambleton, Professor of Paediatrics and Immunology, Newcastle University

Professor Muzlifah Haniffa, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science, Newcastle University, Associate Faculty, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Dr Roger Highfield, Director of Science, Science Museum Group

Professor Oliver Howes, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry, King's College London, MRC Programme Leader, Imperial College London and Consultant Psychiatrist, Maudsley Hospital, London

Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Director, MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Unit and Director, Uganda Virus Research Institute

Dr Michael Lenardo OBE, Chief, Molecular Development of the Immune System Section and Director,  Clinical Genomics Program, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA

Professor Alison Lloyd, Professor of Cell Biology, University College London, and Director, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

Professor Christine MacArthur, Professor of Maternal and Child Epidemiology, University of Birmingham

Professor Ziad Mallat, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Cambridge

Professor Oscar Marín, Director, MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, King's College London

Professor Neena Modi, Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London

Professor Emma Morris, Professor of Clinical Cell & Gene Therapy and Honorary Consultant, University College London, University College London Hospital and Royal Free London Hospital

Professor Valerie O'Donnell FLSW, Professor of Biochemistry, Cardiff University

Professor Rosalind Raine, Professor of Health Services Research & Head of Department of Applied Health Research, University College London

Dr David Rees, Chief Scientific Officer, Astex Pharmaceuticals

Professor Mary Reilly, Professor of Neurology, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Dr Nitzan Rosenfeld, Senior Group Leader, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge

Dr Jina Swartz, Therapeutic Area Head Neuroscience and Executive Medical Director, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme Limited

Professor Ludovic Vallier, Professor of Regenerative Medicine, Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, University of Cambridge

Professor Cornelia van Duijn, Professor of Epidemiology, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford

Professor Andrew Waters FRSE, Professor of Molecular and Developmental Parasitology, and Director, Wellcome Centre for Integrated Parasitology, Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow

Professor Helen Weiss, Professor of Epidemiology, and Director, MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Professor Hugh Willison, Professor of Neurology, University of Glasgow

Professor Matthew Wood, Professor of Neuroscience and Deputy Head, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford

Professor Eleftheria Zeggini, Director, Institute of Translational Genomics; Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen

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