Celebrating our 20th anniversary with 20 firsts for the Academy



To celebrate the Academy’s 20th birthday, we have put together a snapshot of 20 of our biggest impacts. To find out more about our 20th celebrations and our future plans, read this blog by our President Professor Sir Robert Lechler, and follow #AMS20 on social media.

The Academy would like to thank all our funders, partners and collaborators, without whom none of this work would be possible.

1945 First proposal for a national medical academy

A proposal to form an academy of medicine to represent all fields and faculties was met with “some hostility”, according to an account by the Academy’s first President, Sir Peter Lachmann FRS FMedSci, 50 years later. At the time the Government was understandably preoccupied with forming the National Health Service.

1994 First consultation on an academy of medicine for the UK

Dr John Green began a series of interviews, examining the feasibility of establishing a UK medical academy.

1996 First member of staff

The first formal member of staff, Tony Leaney, was brought in to help analyse responses from the open consultation on forming a UK medical academy.

1998 First day of the Academy of Medical Sciences

Following a meeting of 107 Founder Fellows, the Academy was officially established on 16 November 1998.

1999 First formal scientific review

The Academy’s first formal scientific investigation reviewed the health impacts of zinc cadmium sulphate at the request of the Department of Health.

2001 First annual lecture

To date, the Jean Shanks Lecture has been delivered by some of the most illustrious names in medical science, including Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier, best known for her role in deciphering the molecular mechanisms of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 immune system and repurposing it into a tool for genome editing.

2003 First grant scheme

The Academy’s Clinician Scientist Fellowships secured a training pathway for people who wanted to be both clinicians and researchers, supporting future excellence in the face of declining numbers and funding shortages.

2003 First FORUM meeting

The Academy’s FORUM provides a neutral and independent platform for individuals from across academia, industry, the NHS and wider healthcare sector. Today, the FORUM programme includes the FORUM Annual Lecture alongside regular cross-sector workshops.

2003 First mentor-mentee pair matched

Identifying a lack of pastoral and critical support for researchers, the Academy opened the doors to its Fellowship as expert mentors. Our one-to-one mentoring programme continues to support post-doctoral biomedical and health researchers by pairing them with an Academy Fellow or senior academic, and has recently matched its 900th pair.

2004 First International Health Lecture

The Academy's annual International Health Lecture provides a platform for leaders in global health to discuss topics of international significance – promoting debate, discussion and the exchange of ideas on current research.

2007 First major policy report to include deliberative public dialogue

The Academy report, ‘Brain science, addiction and drugs’ was the first to invite the public and patients into the policy making process. By ensuring our policy advice continues to be shaped by the views of wider society, our recommendations remain both relevant and timely.

2008 First Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers

Bringing together a unique consortium of funders, Starter Grants provide modest ‘start up’ funds for research active Clinical Lecturers to gather preliminary data, helping pave the way for future major grant applications.

2008 First international policy report

‘Challenges and priorities for global mental health research in low- and middle-income countries’ highlighted the strategies required to translate research into policy.

2008 First international grants

The launch of the Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowships marked the Academy’s first grants to researchers outside the UK. These grants support short exchanges between the UK and the Middle East, and marked the start of a growing international grant scheme portfolio, which reflects the interconnected nature of science today.

2009 First staff away day

The Academy’s behind-the-scenes team today stands at nearly 50 staff, spanning policy, careers and communications. With a strong family feel and regular social meetings, the earliest photographic evidence of staff taking an ‘away day’ is a 10 mile walk in Kent in 2009…

2010 First day in 41 Portland Place

The Academy’s merger with the Novartis Foundation enabled it to expand into refurbished headquarters at 41 Portland Place, offering a central London conference venue for meetings and events.

2013 First media training session for female medical experts

Motivated by the lack of women experts in the media, the Academy developed a unique, hands-on media training programme which includes access to long-term support and media opportunities. By 2018, 107 women have been trained through the programme and many have now completed high profile broadcast interviews, often for the first time.

2014 First Newton-funded projects

Newton scheme funding heralded a major expansion of the Academy’s international work, with Newton Advanced and Newton International Fellowships supporting overseas researchers through training, collaboration and reciprocal visits with UK partners.

2014 First Regional Champions event

In 2014 we established an official network of Fellows across the UK to help bring together our grant awardees and Fellows within regions. The first event was a discussion about team science held over dinner in Edinburgh.

2015 First diversity report

The Academy is committed to encouraging diversity and equality of opportunity across every sphere of its activity. We continue to work towards providing full gender, ethnicity and disability breakdowns across every aspect of our work, including our Fellows, committees, grant awardees and meetings.

To find out more about our work, visit our homepage. To support the work of the Academy, see our dedicated Support us webpage.

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