13th May 2009

Prestigious awards in microbiology

Senior Sanger Institute researchers, Professor Gordon Dougan and Professor Julian Parkhill awarded scientific Fellowships

Salmonella

The biology of Salmonella typhi is revealed by its genome. [David Goulding]

Two of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's leading microbiologists have been honoured with awards from scientific Academies in the United States and UK. Professor Gordon Dougan has been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology, while Professor Julian Parkhill was honoured by election to the Fellowship of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

Together, the honours are testament to the outstanding achievements of these research scientists and underline the Institute's role as a key scientific institution at the cutting edge of pathogen research.

Gordon Dougan, who heads the Microbial Pathogenesis group at the Institute, was elected earlier this year alongside 72 other microbiologists, representing all subspecialties of microbiology, including basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service.

In May, Julian Parkhill, who leads the Pathogen Genomics group, was among 40 scientists and clinicians honoured by the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences. The Academy elects fellows for outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical science, for innovative application of scientific knowledge or for their conspicuous service to healthcare.

Julian Parkhill plays an important strategic role at the Sanger Institute, implementing a "broad and deep" strategy toward sequencing pathogen genomes. Since joining the Institute in 1997, he has brought this strategy to the detailed sequencing and study of many hundreds of pathogen genomes.

" I am delighted that two such distinguished microbiologists among our ranks have been honoured. Gordon and Julian have been outstanding leaders in the Sanger Institute's research into pathogens, not to mention their impact on the global research community. "

Prof Allan Bradley

"It is a great honour," says Julian Parkhill, "that recognises the work of all in the pathogen teams. At the Sanger Institute, we have been able to generate genetic data for a huge variety of pathogens that can have devastating effects on human lives. We use our tools to generate resources that will have a lasting impact on the health of the global population, and thanks to the open access policies of the Wellcome Trust, we are able to release this data rapidly, accelerating its use by scientists worldwide."

Gordon Dougan joined the Sanger Institute in May 2004. His research focuses on the host-pathogen interactions that play a role in human diseases. Since moving to the Sanger Institute from a position as Director of the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection at Imperial College, he has dedicated himself to establishing research programmes into microbial pathogens, including Salmonella Typhi and C. difficile.

"I feel privileged to receive this honour," says Gordon Dougan. "The beauty of modern science is that we can take an integrated approach, creating networks of researchers across the globe, including individuals in those countries most heavily burdened by a particular disease."

"I am very grateful to be honoured among the many researchers that are a part of these networks and I am absolutely thrilled to hear that Julian's achievements have also been marked by the Academy of Medical Sciences. Working among such experts is one of the many pleasures of my role."

The Sanger Institute has sequenced many pathogen genomes, including the causative agents of tuberculosis, malaria, plague, typhoid fever, sleeping sickness, whooping cough, dengue fever, leprosy, diphtheria and meningitis.

"I am delighted that two such distinguished microbiologists among our ranks have been honoured," says Professor Allan Bradley, Director of the Sanger Institute. "Gordon and Julian have been outstanding leaders in the Sanger Institute's research into pathogens, not to mention their impact on the global research community."

"Their work, and that of their teams, will clear the path for improved diagnosis, treatment, and perhaps even eradication of some of the world's most devastating pathogens."

Notes to Editors

American Academy of Microbiology

The American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world's oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.

Academy of Medical Sciences

The independent Academy of Medical Sciences promotes advances in medical science and campaigns to ensure these are translated into benefits for patients. The Academy's Fellows are the United Kingdom's leading medical scientists and scholars from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service.

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The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which receives the majority of its funding from the Wellcome Trust, was founded in 1992. The Institute is responsible for the completion of the sequence of approximately one-third of the human genome as well as genomes of model organisms and more than 90 pathogen genomes. In October 2006, new funding was awarded by the Wellcome Trust to exploit the wealth of genome data now available to answer important questions about health and disease.

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The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.

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