Promoting excellence

Strategic aims

The heart of the Academy of Medical Sciences is our Fellowship – over 1000 of the most eminent UK researchers who have made transformative contributions to medical science. The excellence of the Fellows’ science, their contribution to medicine and society and the range of their achievements are reflected throughout the Academy’s work. Through our prize lectures, awards and election of Fellows, we seek to recognise the best talent in medical science – in all its diverse forms – and to champion new knowledge and its translation into patient benefits.

Significant activities

  • Recognising outstanding individuals. Our annual election of Fellows continues to be the cornerstone of our work. FMedSci is internationally known as a mark of esteem and achievement in medical science. Investment in our new website, with a much improved directory of Fellows, ensures that Fellows are show-cased in a modern and accessible ‘shop window’ for the Academy. In June 2013 we admitted 44 new Fellows, who represent the UK’s leaders in medical research and healthcare. In November 2013 we admitted Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as our first Royal Fellow and Sir John Walker FRS FMedSci as an Honorary Fellow. The Fellowship Committee and Sectional Committees continued to review diversity – in all its forms – amongst the candidates and elected Fellows.
  • Promoting scientific debate. We expanded our programme of Fellows’ discussion dinners with seven events taking place over the course of the year. Topics included: cholesterol modification and risk; killer T cells; and suicide prevention measures. We opened up attendance at discussion dinners to early career researchers to enable them to meet Fellows, engage in discussion and identify potential mentors. A regional Fellows’ dinner was held in Manchester with a talk given by Professor Dan Davis FMedSci.
  • Celebrating medical science. Our named lectures provide opportunities to celebrate outstanding achievements in medical science and to highlight major scientific breakthroughs. In July 2013 the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in the Medical Sciences was given by Dr Richard Lifton, Yale University on ‘Genes, genomes and the future of medicine’. In November 2013 the Jean Shanks Lecture was given by Professor Sir Michael Stratton FRS FMedSci on ‘Secrets within the genomes of cancer cells’. Full length and summary films of Sir Michael’s talk were recorded and have been accessed by an audience many times larger than was present in the room.
  • Recognising excellence at all career stages. Dr Akhilesh Reddy, a circadian neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, was awarded the 2013 Foulkes Foundation Medal, which recognises an outstanding researcher within 10 years of completing their PhD. The Academy’s Lancet Prize, which recognises a postdoctoral clinical academic trainee for excellence in research, was
    awarded to Dr Paul Brennan, Clinical Lecturer, University of Edinburgh. In December 2013 we awarded our first prize for excellence in communicating research to Dr Karin Straathof, Institute of Child Health, University College London.

Future plans

  • Improving diversity in the Fellowship. We will continue to build a Fellowship that fully represents excellence in medical science irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, discipline, geographic location or workplace and we will work to see how we can improve industry representation amongst candidates and elected Fellows.
  • Modernising our Fellowship election system. We will seek to develop and implement a new electronic system to support our Fellowship election that will streamline the process and provide a more user-friendly interface for nominators, reviewers and Sectional Committee members.
  • Engaging the Fellowship and beyond. We will implement plans developed in 2013-4 for a Regional Champions scheme, building a network of Fellows across the UK tasked with undertaking activities to increase connectivity amongst Fellows, raise awareness of the Academy’s work amongst the broader biomedical community, and to catalyse engagement.
  • Championing knowledge. We will continue to build the reputation of our prestigious annual lectures and prizes, and increase their reach through our website and online tools.

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