September 25, 2008

David Baulcombe, professor of botany at the University of Cambridge, has won the 2008 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Professor Baulcombe won the award - popularly known as "America's Nobels" and often cited as a precursor to a Nobel prize - alongside two US researchers (Victor Ambros and Gary Ruvkun) for the discovery of small RNA molecules that regulate gene function. The Lasker Foundation works to advance the prevention and treatment of disease and disabilities by honouring excellence in basic and clinical science, educating the public, and advocating for support of medical research.

Dan Healey, senior lecturer in history at Swansea University, has won a grant of more than £100,000 to investigate the history of medicine in Stalin's concentration camps. Dr Healy will carry out the research in collaboration with Kirill Rossianov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. About 20 million people passed through the network of camps, dubbed the Gulag Archipelago, between 1929 and 1953, and hundreds of thousands perished. The project will look at the relationship between Soviet civilian and prison medicine, asking how Gulag experience affected Soviet medicine more generally.

A Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council- funded scientist working at the University of Glasgow has become the first woman to win the Estelle Grover Lecture Award for her research into the life-threatening condition pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Mandy MacLean has been recognised for her contribution to the understanding of blood circulation around the lungs. The Estelle Grover lecture, organised by the American Thoracic Society, was instigated in 1992 in memory of the wife of Robert Grover, a pioneer in the understanding of pulmonary hypertension. The honour of delivering the lecture is given to a researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to understanding the mechanisms of pulmonary vascular disease and pulmonary hypertension. The last time a British person received this honour was in 1996, when Timothy Evans, a consultant in thoracic medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital, gave the lecture.

Nottingham Trent University has announced that Ann Allen is to be appointed associate dean of the university's School of Social Sciences. Before joining the university as senior lecturer in careers guidance in 1993, Ms Allen worked in a variety of careers advisory roles. She led the university's diploma in careers guidance.

Northamptonshire Police Authority chair Deirdre Newham has been appointed to lead the University of Northampton's governing council. She has taken over the role from John Castle, who has retired. Mrs Newham has been a governor at the university since 2002. Her previous roles include serving as a local magistrate, and as both chair of the bench and of the Magistrates Courts' committee.

University of Ulster law lecturer Venkat Iyer has been appointed to the Law Commission of Northern Ireland. The newly established commission is an independent statutory body charged with the task of reviewing and systematically developing the law of Northern Ireland. Dr Iyer, who is editor of two law journals, joined Ulster in 1995. He has previously had the role of Nuffield Press fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and has worked as a consultant for the World Bank, where he was involved in reviewing and designing a programme on continuing legal education for the Kenyan Bar. Dr Iyer also runs training courses on media law and ethics for newspapers and media organisations around the world.

Two academics from University College London have received international awards from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in recognition of their work to understand and treat conditions of the heart. John Martin, director of the UCL Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine and British Heart Foundation professor of cardiovascular science, has been awarded the ESC's Gold Medal. The only other holder of this medal in the UK is Sir James Black, Nobel laureate. Paul Riley, of the UCL Institute of Child Health, has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award 2008 of the ESC Council on Basic Cardiovascular Science. Ed Byrne, executive dean of the UCL faculty of biomedical sciences and head of the medical school, said: "Heart and circulatory disease is the UK's biggest killer, and these awards demonstrate that UCL research is breaking new ground in the understanding and treatment of these conditions."

The University of Huddersfield has awarded professorships to two of its academics. Michael Russ has become a professor of music and Helen Masson has become a professor of social work. After transferring from the University of Ulster, Dr Russ joined Huddersfield as head of the department of music. He subsequently went on to take a wider role as an associate dean of the School of Music, Humanities and Media. Dr Russ won the prestigious Westrup award for musicology in the 1990s for his work on the composer Bela Bartok and is also known for his work for bodies such as the Higher Education Academy subject centre for dance, drama and music, called Palatine. He served on the management board of Palatine from 2000 to 2006 and was twice elected to the committee of the National Association for Music in Higher Education by colleagues across the UK. Dr Masson joined the university in 1976 as a lecturer after many years working as a social worker. Since then, she has undertaken various leadership roles in the development and delivery of the undergraduate and postgraduate courses for social workers. Since the early 1990s, Dr Masson has also forged a reputation in research in policy and practice development in relation to young people who have been sexually abused. In November 2007, she and a colleague at Durham University were awarded a Economic and Social Research Council grant to undertake further research in this area.

Television producer, author, journalist and broadcaster Suzanne Franks is joining the University of Kent as director of research. She will be joining the university's Centre for Journalism as well as the department of politics and international relations. Dr Franks' previous roles have included working as a producer for BBC Television on programmes including Newsnight, Watchdog and Panorama. She has run her own TV production company and has written press articles and reviews for various publications. Tim Luckhurst, head of the Centre for Journalism, said Dr Franks "is a brilliant academic with a tremendous track record in journalism and as an author", and it is this wealth of experience that has led to her appointment.

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