Professor Philippa Saunders elected Academy's registrar

Professor Philippa Saunders FMedSci, has been elected by the Academy Council as the new Registrar. She follows Professor Moira Whyte FMedSci, who stepped down in June after four years in the role.

We asked her about her plans for the Fellowship and what challenges and opportunities she sees for the Academy in the future.

Professor Saunders, what made you decide to stand for election as the Academy's Registrar?

I was motivated to apply for the role of Registrar because I wanted to increase my contribution to the excellent work the Academy does in support of the biomedical research.

The Registrar has the very important role of overseeing the election of Fellows to the Academy, ensuring its diversity and variety. Have you got a vision of what the Fellowship will look like in the next four years?

I think it is important that the Fellowship reflects the full range of talent within the biomedical research community including individuals who have experience of working in industry and in communicating science to policy makers and the public. We will continue to strive for diversity in both discipline and geographical location. I hope that during my tenure as Registrar the proportion of Fellows elected each year who are women will increase to 50%.

As the Registrar, you are part of the Academy's council, which governs and provides strategic advice to the Academy. What would you like to see the Academy do more of?

I hope the Academy will continue to provide a wide range of support to the early career researchers in our community both in the form of grants and excellent mentorship programmes. The Team Science Project, which I supported as a member of the working group, provided a template for increasing the recognition of the contributions of individuals working in teams and I hope that the Academy will provide leadership in implementing the recommendations in the report. 

You are involved in many Academy activities, not last the recently launched Springboard programme. Do you plan to take a step back while you cover the role of Registrar?

The Springboard initiative is one that is very close to my heart and it has been wonderful to meet the grant awardees, hear their stories and the difference their grant will make to their career trajectories. I will be continuing to support Springboard as Chair of selection panel. I am due to step down from the Careers committee, but will of course continue to act as a mentor in the Sustain programme.

Have you had any tips from the previous registrar?

I had an excellent chat with Moira about the role before I applied. She emphasised how important the role of Registrar is in ensuring that the election process identifies outstanding candidates and how much she had enjoyed her time as Registrar highlighting the exceptional support provided by the Academy staff.

After a few days in the role, is there anything that you have learnt that has surprised you already? What’s the most daunting thing about the role for you?

I think the most daunting thing was hearing Moira reading out the names and citations of the newly elected Fellows and realising I will be taking on that task next year!  


Professor Saunders  Biography

Philippa Saunders is a biomedical scientist and Professor of Reproductive Steroids at the University of Edinburgh. She is a Principal Investigator in the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research and her laboratory team is investigating the mechanisms responsible for hormone dependent disorders such as endometrial cancer and endometriosis.

She has trained more than 50 PhD, MSc and postdoctoral fellows. Since 2012 she has served as Director of Postgraduate Research for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012. In 2015 she was elected as a Fellow ad eudeum in the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in recognition of her impact in generating new knowledge to improve clinical management of women with reproductive problems. 

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