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19 June 2021

Oxford University Academics Honoured

Tag(s): Education, Current Affairs
As an Alumnus of the University of Oxford I was very proud to learn that the pioneering work of members of the University, including research into tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List announced last week.
The honorands include researchers that have played key roles in leading the University’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic, from the development of new vaccines to the discovery of new drug treatments.

Recognised for their research and contributions to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic:

Sarah Gilbert, Sa?d Professor of Vaccinology, who becomes a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE), for services to Science and Public Health. She is the Oxford Project Leader for ChAdOx1 nCOV – 19, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus SARS – CoV – 2, which is now in use in many countries around the world.

Professor Gilbert said, ‘I am humbled to receive this honour. I have worked in the development of vaccines against infectious pathogens for many years and in the last 17 months have been able to draw on all that I have learned in order to respond to the SARS- CoV-2 pandemic. I have been so fortunate to work with a very talented and dedicated team who made it possible to develop a vaccine in less time than anyone thought possible.’

Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute and Lakshmi Mittal and Family Professor of Vaccinology, who becomes an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), for services to Science and Public Health. He has been a key member of the team that designed and developed the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at the University’s Jenner Institute with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Professor Hill said, ‘I am delighted to receive this award which reflects the efforts of so many colleagues at the Jenner Institute. This recognises not just the extraordinary efforts of those who worked on the COVID vaccine programme, but also a remarkable sequence of talented students, research fellows and senior investigators over the last 25 years.’

Their efforts in developed designing, developing and clinically testing vaccines against globally important diseases allowed us to select the most effective vaccine type to address the pandemic. Hopefully, today’s awards will encourage more aspiring scientists to consider a career in vaccinology which has ever widening life-saving applications, as illustrated so well over the last year.

Peter Hornby, Director of the Pandemic Sciences Centre, and Professor of Emerging and Infectious Diseases and Global Health, becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Medical Research. He co-leads the UK Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 therapy (RECOVERY) trial, the largest randomised controlled trial of COVID-19 treatments in the world.

Professor Horby said, ‘I am delighted to receive this honour and indebted to my family, friends and colleagues for their immense support and inspiration throughout my career. I’m incredibly fortunate to work with brilliant, dedicated colleagues across the globe, who collaborate tirelessly to make the world a safer place.’

Martin Landray, Deputy Director of the Big Data Institute, and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Science and Public Health. With Peter Hornby, he co-leads the RECOVERY trial, the largest randomised controlled trial of COVID-19 treatments in the world.

Professor Landry said, ‘It is a huge privilege to receive this honour for services to public health and science. It is wonderful to see our use of streamlined clinical trials to improve treatment of major causes of poor health recognised in this way. Guiding the RECOVERY trial of treatments for COVID-19 over this past year has been an extraordinary experience with important lessons for so many other conditions in the future.’

Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to Public Health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has led the global clinical trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, with the first doses given on 23rd April 2020.

Professor Pollard said, ‘I am absolutely delighted and uplifted to receive this honour, standing in awe of our amazing international team of talented vaccine researchers and filled with admiration for the dedicated trial volunteers. Together we have built a coronavirus vaccine for the world providing a protective shield fit for a band of knights.’

Catherine Green, Head of the Nuffield Department of Medicine’s Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility and Associate Professor at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, who is appointed as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to Science and Public Health. A team at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility has been an integral part of the University’s development of a ChAdOx1 vectored vaccine against the SARS – CoV-2 virus, in partnership with AstraZeneca.

Professor Green said, ‘I hope this recognition serves to highlight the phenomenally dedicated people at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility and the whole project team who worked so hard to deliver this vaccine for the world. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with them all, and there are still many more challenges that we will continue to tackle together in the future.’

Teresa Lambe, Associate Professor at the Jenner Institute, who is appointed as an honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), for services to Science and Public Health. She is one of the Principal Investigators overseeing the University’s COVID-19 vaccine programme.

Professor Lambe said, ‘It is a privilege to receive this recognition and I would like to thank the global team, whose imagination, hard work, and determination allowed us to turn the impossible into reality, making a vaccine in record time. Going forward, we need to remember what we can achieve when we work together, so we can make sure that future generations don’t need to make the same sacrifices that we have.’

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, ‘I am absolutely delighted by the recognition of our extraordinary colleagues who have worked so creatively and so tirelessly to develop a vaccine, and therapeutics, to protect us all from COVID-19. They and the teams that have supported them are saving lives around the world every day. We are all deeply proud of them.’

In addition to those recognised for their work on the COVID-19 pandemic, Sally Shuttleworth, Professor of Literature at the English Faculty becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to English Literature. She is an authority on the history of Victorian literature and science, and her work has been dedicated to communicating its relevance to and complex legacy in our present.

Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, is appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to Higher Education. Professor Biggar’s research focuses on major ethical questions, including nationalism and empire; individual rights and ‘just war’ as well as the moral vocation of universities and the relationship between Christian religious concepts and moral life.

Guy Thwaites, Professor of Infectious Diseases, is appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Public Health and UK/Vietnam relations. Professor Thwaites is Director of the Oxford Clinical Research Unit/Wellcome Programme in Vietnam, which studies emerging viral infections as well as conditions including malaria, tuberculosis and antimicrobial drug resistance. His personal research focuses on severe bacterial infections.

Christopher Fairburn, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, is appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to psychological treatments in the treatment of eating disorders. In 1986, Professor Fairburn founded the Centre for Research on Eating Disorders at Oxford.

Keith Willet, National Director for Emergency Planning and Incident Response to NHS England and NHS Improvement, Honorary Consultant at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at the University of Oxford, becomes a Knight Bachelor for services to the NHS. As Strategic Incident Director for COVID-19, he has led the NHS England response and ensured the NHS has been fully prepared for the surge in COVID-19 cases.

It is quite an achievement for one University to see so many of its academic staff honoured by the Queen at the same time, and for the majority of them to be honoured for the world leading development of the AstraZeneca vaccine in record time. Kate Bingham was also made a Dame in the honours list and she is the outstanding lady who led the sourcing and procurement programme for the nation and for many other nations it should be remembered. AstraZeneca is producing this vaccine at cost and the government have got many things wrong in the treatment of the pandemic but it provided the money for the development of this vaccine and one of Boris Johnson’s better choices of individuals was to choose Kate for this role.

I think the media coverage of the honours is far too sensationalist. Most of the headlines were about the fact that the pop singer Lulu had been made a Dame. For all I know that is justified, perhaps by her charitable work but I would much prefer to have seen more headlines given to Dame Sarah Gilbert and Dane Kate Bingham and that is why I wrote this blog. I wanted more people to know.
Source: University of Oxford Alumni News, June 2021



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