Two UCL academics named as Fellows of the Royal Society

Professor Sarah Tabrizi (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) and Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck (UCL Cancer Institute) have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society in recognition of their invaluable contributions to scientific research.

They are among a cohort of 80 outstanding researchers, innovators and communicators from around the world to be selected as the newest Fellows of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences and the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.

Earning a Fellowship of the Royal Society means joining the most eminent scientists, technologists and engineers from or living and working in the UK and the Commonwealth, alongside a shorter list of Foreign Members.

Professor Sarah Tabrizi, based in the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI) Group Leader at UCL, has made seminal discoveries in Huntington’s research, recognised by numerous major awards and prizes, including the 2022 MRC Millennium Medal. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014. Her research has led to the first treatment trials of nucleic acid therapies for Huntington’s, a disease for which effective treatments are desperately needed.

Professor Tabrizi’s findings have provided transformational insights into the mechanistic biology of Huntington’s and helped create an entirely new field of novel therapeutic agents.

Professor Tabrizi said: "I am so very honoured by this amazing news. It recognises the selfless contributions of Huntington’s disease patients and families, as well as the incredible work of my researchers and colleagues, past and present, at the Huntington’s Disease Centre, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology and UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI), all’of whom have been utterly essential to driving forward my research."

Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck of the UCL Cancer Institute has made fundamental discoveries about how cells and organisms respond to environmental signals by generating lipid second messengers. His contributions include the discovery of kinase enzymes that produce these lipids, their functions in the organism and how these can be targeted by new drugs that are currently clinically used as immune-therapeutics and for cancer treatment.

Professor Vanhaesebroeck’s recent work on kinase activators has opened new avenues for drug development in areas of unmet clinical need such as nerve regeneration, cardioprotection and cancer.

Professor Vanhaesebroeck said: "I am thrilled to receive this honour, which awards the talent and hard work of all the people who worked with me over the years, and the funders who have been willing to support risky projects and believe in the power of fundamental research. Hopefully, this award will give further confidence in supporting blue-sky fundamental research with translational potential."

30 per cent of this year’s intake of Fellows, Foreign Members and Honorary Fellows are women. New Fellows were selected from 23 UK institutions and came from countries including Singapore, Mexico, Brazil, China and Japan.

Distinguished names to be included over the years are Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner and Dorothy Hodgkin. Other notable inclusions on this year’s list are Nobel laureate Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier and the former Chief Scientific Advisor to the US President, Professor Anthony Fauci.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: "I am pleased to welcome such an outstanding group into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. This new cohort have already made significant contributions to our understanding of the world around us and continue to push the boundaries of possibility in academic research and industry.

"From visualising the sharp rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution to leading the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, their diverse range of expertise is furthering human understanding and helping to address some of our greatest challenges. It is an honour to have them join the Fellowship."

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