By Susan Watts
Amanda Fisher, Director of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, has been made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours List for 2017.
The award recognises Professor Fisher’s fundamental scientific discoveries in HIV, her subsequent work on stem cell science and epigenetics, and her strong advocacy for women in science.
Professor Fisher said she was very happy to accept the honour because it recognises two areas of her professional life about which she has long been passionate.
“I hope this recognition will enable me to make a real difference in two areas. First, to highlight the essential contribution that discovery science can make to life-saving treatments, even when this may not at first be obvious.
“When I began work on HIV, my focus was on how to get bits of DNA into human blood cells to see if they would express certain genes. When we tried this technique with DNA from HIV we struck gold. Infectious virus was produced. With the luxury of hindsight this was important because it helped to establish HIV as the virus that caused AIDS, and allowed us to find out what each of the virus’s genes do.
“And second, it matters to me that it’s still a struggle to attract girls into science and to persuade them to stay. There’s strength in diverse teams in science, as in so many walks of life. At the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences our mission is to build strong links between science and medicine and train a new generation of researchers.
“Every day I’m inspired by our teams as they explore the impact of genetic and environmental factors in ageing, health and disease and work towards new therapies for conditions such as cancer, sepsis, diabetes and heart disease.
“We do all of this so much better because we are a diverse team and we’re creative. We have women and men, junior and senior researchers, clinicians and non-clinicians, EU and non-EU citizens bringing together their very best ideas and learning from each other.”
The full honours citation reads:
“Professor Amanda Fisher Director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Imperial College London, has made fundamental discoveries in the molecular biology of HIV, the genomic characterisation of stem cells and the study of epigenetic gene regulation. Her observations of the HIV-1 virus underpinned the complete molecular understanding of the HIV genome and were a basis for the subsequent development of antiretroviral drugs. She is a strong advocate and role model for women in science and has made a significant contribution to the public understanding of science and training and mentoring researchers.”
Contact: Susan Watts
Head of Communications and Public Engagement
MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS)
Hammersmith Hospital campus
Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN
T: +44 (0) 208 3838247
M: +44 (0) 7590 250652