Seven researchers awarded Academy of Medical Sciences Fellowships

Seven Imperial College London academics have been elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS)

The researchers awarded Fellowships this year are Professors Faith Osier, Azeem Majeed, Waljit Dhillo, Jane Davies, Alun Davies, Samir Bhatt and Axel Behrens.

They are among 59 influential scientists elected to the Academy, which describes itself as the independent voice of biomedical and health research in the UK.

Professor Deborah Ashby, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, said: "I’m so very pleased to see how many of Imperial’s health and science researchers have been recognised by the Academy for their tireless work. and we’re proud to see all’of them achieve this significant milestone in their careers."

"Each one of these new Fellows carries out important research - often with global resonance and impact" Deborah Ashby Dean, Faculty of Medicine

President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Professor Andrew Morris said: "It is an honour to welcome these brilliant minds to our Fellowship. We look forward to working with them, and learning from them, in our quest to foster an open and progressive research environment that improves the health of people everywhere through excellence in medical science."

The scientists will be formally admitted at a ceremony on Wednesday 18 September 2024.

Professor Jane Davies, National Heart and Lung Institute

Jane Davies is Professor of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London and Honorary Consultant at the Royal Brompton Hospital. She has been at the forefront of revolutionising treatments for cystic fibrosis patients, focusing on designing and leading clinical trials for groundbreaking ’CFTR modulator’ drugs that target the root cause of the disease.

She said: "It is incredibly rewarding to witness the real-world impact our work has had on cystic fibrosis patients’ lives. From those early days with ivacaftor - a highly effective drug for a small minority of patients - we now have a triple combination treatment suitable for around 90% of patients, prescribed to children as young as six years old. However, we must not forget the minority who can’t yet benefit from these drugs and our focus now is on extending the same benefits to them using innovative approaches like gene therapy. This is a significant milestone in my career; I am excited to be part of the Academy and further advance research and care for cystic fibrosis and other respiratory diseases."

Professor Waljit Dhillo, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Waljit Dhillo is a Professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism and Consultant Endocrinologist at Imperial College London. He is Head of Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism at Imperial, Divisional Director of Research at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Dean of the NIHR Academy and Scientific Director for Research Capacity and Capabilities to the NIHR Board.

He commented: ’I am honoured to have been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences - it’s a tribute to the brilliant team I work with. Our research has now resulted in a new licensed therapy, which is non-oestrogen based, for menopausal flushing - this will make a real difference to the lives of many women suffering around the world’.

Professor Faith Osier, Institute of Infection

Faith Osier is Chair of Immunology and Vaccinology in the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, as well as co-director of the Institute of Infection. Her research team’s vision is to "Make Malaria History" through vaccination. She is Director of "Chanjo", an African-led academic industry hub that implements a bottom-up approach to local vaccine manufacturing for endemic and epidemic diseases of importance to Africa.

Faith has won multiple international awards such as the Royal Society Pfizer, the Sofja Kovalevskaja, and the UKRI African Research Leader. She was awarded the prestigious British Society for Immunology Lifetime Honorary Membership Award.

She says: "I am thrilled to join the Academy of Medical Sciences and look forward to working with like-minded colleagues to promote equity in Global Health. The burden of malaria remains exceptionally high and our efforts to develop effective vaccines are more important than ever."

Professor Azeem Majeed, School of Public Health

Azeem Majeed is Head of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial. His academic work has focused on developing the evidence base for primary care and public health policies using rigorous analyses of large-scale health databases. His leadership roles in the National Institute for Health and Care Research and his influential work at the UK Office for National Statistics have helped shape health policies in areas such as health surveillance, disease prevention and chronic disease management. He is one of the most highly cited primary care researchers globally. Azeem continues to work as an NHS General Practitioner and Consultant in Public Health in addition to his academic role at Imperial.

He commented: "I am deeply honoured to be elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, which is a testament to the collective efforts of my colleagues and the supportive environment in the School of Public Health. We face many national and global challenges in the fields of primary care and public health and research is essential if we are to tackle these effectively."

Professor Axel Behrens, Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre

Professor Axel Behrens is Scientific Director at the Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre, a major strategic collaboration between Institute of Cancer Research and Imperial College London and leads the stem cell group at the ICR. He is a well-known international expert in cancer stem cell biology and works to forge close partnerships between scientists from different disciplines.

He said: "I am delighted to be elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and I see this award as underlining the importance of stem cell biology, and of multidisciplinary working, in cancer research. These are both absolutely critical in tackling the unresolved problems in cancer biology and bringing innovative treatments to patients more quickly."

Professor Samir Bhatt, School of Public Health

Samir Bhatt is Professor of Statistics and Public Health at Imperial College London and a Professor of Machine Learning and Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. An epidemiologist and statistician, his group focuses on mathematical, statistical and computer science tools to answer questions about human health. He benefited early in his career from the AMS’s Springboard scheme, receiving £100,000 in funding for his work on infectious disease outbreaks, and is the first Springboard recipient to go on to be awarded a Fellowship.

He said: "I am deeply honored to be elected to the Academy Fellowship. This recognition is a testament to the dedication and support of my funders, colleagues and staff over the years, for which I am profoundly grateful. As an interdisciplinary researcher, I am excited to witness the transformative changes in the medical field as innovative ideas converge and evolve in the coming years."

Professor Alun Davies, Department of Surgery and Cancer

Alun H Davies is Professor of Vascular Surgery at Imperial, an NIHR Senior Investigator and an Honorary Consultant Surgeon whose NHS practice is based at Charing Cross and St Mary’s Hospital, London. He is regarded as a world expert in the management of arterial and venous disorders. He has worked extensively on many aspects of vascular disease, leading a large research group and writing over 600 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Clinically he runs a busy specialist vascular surgical practice including the management of not only superficial venous disease, but complex deep vein and compression syndromes.

He said: "Being awarded the Academy of Medical Sciences Fellowship is a tremendous honour that validates the research work my colleagues and I have done over the years in the field of vascular surgery. This recognition motivates me to pursue further innovation and excellence, with the knowledge that our contributions are advancing the field of medical science and benefiting patients."