UCL professors makes first TIME100 Health List

Paolo De Coppi and Bobby Gaspar
Paolo De Coppi and Bobby Gaspar
Professors Paolo De Coppi and Bobby Gaspar have been named in TIME’s inaugural TIME100 Health List, as two of the 100 most influential people in global health this year.

NIHR Professor De Coppi is the Nuffield Professor and Head of the Surgery Unit at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and a Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). He is also the co-lead of the NIHR GOSH Biomedical Research Centre Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Theme, with his lab team based at the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children. Paolo is the President of the European Paediatric Surgical Association (EUPSA), the largest Paediatric Surgical Association of individuals worldwide.

Speaking of the achievement, Professor De Coppi said: "I feel very proud to work in an environment where we can continuously go from bench to bedside and back again, to improve treatment options for patients at GOSH and around the world.

"I am privileged to always be surrounded by people who are better than me and this recognition is testament to the spirit of teamwork that surrounds our endeavours."

Professor De Coppi has been working for the past 20 years on stem cells from the amniotic fluid. Earlier this year, Professor De Coppi’s and Dr Mattia Gerli’s work on using stem cells to follow late stage pregnancy for the first time was published in Nature Medicine. The research documents how complex cell models, called organoids, have been grown from human stem cells during an active pregnancy - raising the possibility of monitoring and treating congenital conditions, such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), before birth.

Professor De Coppi described the work as "a huge step forward for prenatal medicine" and "the first step towards being able to offer a more detailed prognosis and, hopefully, provide more effective treatments in future."

Meanwhile, De Coppi’s previous work has included other diverse subjects such as mapping Covid transmission in the womb and repairing the defect in the spine of two babies with open spina bifida. He has also been involved in the separation of conjoined twins.

Alongside his work at UCL, Professor De Coppi has been an Honorary Professor at KU Leuven, Belgium, since 2013, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, since 2009 and he is an Honorary Consultant at Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Ges ¨ in Rome.

Professor Bobby Gaspar is an Honorary Clinical Professor at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and expert in paediatrics and immunology at GOSH. His research has involved developing new gene therapy treatments for complex diseases of the immune system.

In 2015 Professor Gaspar helped to found Orchard Therapeutics (Orchard), through a partnership between UCL Business (UCLB), the commercialisation company for UCL, and F-Prime Capital Partners. Its pioneering gene therapies for rare diseases are the result of decades long gene therapy research and clinical work led by Professor Gaspar and Professor Adrian Thrasher at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. Professor Gaspar has led Orchard to its first regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Europe allowing delivery of these transformative gene therapies to eligible children. Last October, it was announced that Orchard was set to be acquired by Japanese pharmaceutical firm Kyowa Kirin for up to $477.6m (ú393.3m). It is hoped that the deal will help build on Orchard’s track record of developing curative treatments for patients with severe genetic disorders and enable to company to create new drugs for a wider range of conditions.

Prof Gaspar said: "These accolades are often given to individuals, but the real recipients are many people and teams. I would like to thank my dear friend and colleague, Adrian Thrasher, and also the gene therapy team we built at UCL/GOSH. I also want to express my immense gratitude to the entire team at Orchard Therapeutics who have worked tirelessly to make these gene therapies into approved medicines for patients in need."

The TIME100 Health List recognises the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals in health.

L-R: Professor Paolo De Coppi and Professor Bobby Gaspar

Poppy Tombs

E: p.tombsá[at] ucl.ac.uk

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