University of Leicester eBulletin

University of Leicester Wins Queen's Anniversary Prize

November 2002
 

Royal recognition for world-renowned achievements in Genetics

The University of Leicester has been selected as a winner of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize – a tremendous accolade for the University which has now achieved this highest distinction twice in less than a decade.   Genetics Dept celebrate
DEPARTMENT CELEBRATES: Staff in the University's Genetics Department celebrate on hearing the news of the Queen's Anniversary Prize

The University is to be honoured by Her Majesty The Queen for its world-renowned achievements in Genetics – the only 5-star rated genetics department in the UK (Research Assessment Exercise 2001).

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education has been awarded to the University for a period of four years in recognition of innovative, pioneering research, its impact on society, and promotion of the public understanding of science.

The Prize recognises and honours ‘outstanding achievements by UK universities and colleges. Uniquely in the field of education these Prizes sit within the national honours systems’.

The awards are in their fifth round after they were first made in 1994. The University of Leicester was among the first winners of the Prizes when they were launched, winning it for the world-class achievements in Physics and Astronomy.

The University was honoured on Thursday, November 14 at a reception to announce the Prizewinners held in St James Palace and attended by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess and the Head of Genetics Dr Annette Cashmore.

The University will be presented with a Prize Medal and illuminated Prize Certificate at a national honours ceremony in Buckingham Palace on 19 February 2003. The University will also be entitled to display The Queen’s Anniversary Prize Logo on its materials.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess said: “This is a terrific achievement for the University of Leicester and speaks volumes for the strength and depth of Genetics at Leicester. We have recently launched an Institute of Genetics which brings together more than 250 researchers from across the University with the Department of Genetics at its centre".

“The Department of Genetics at Leicester is world-renowned. Through excellence and public impact of research and its synergy between research and teaching, the Department has a major influence in the field of genetics and public awareness of science.”

“It is a marvellous achievement for the University which has won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize twice in the five rounds of the award.”

Head of Genetics Dr Annette Cashmore said: “Genetic fingerprinting fired the imagination of the public, bringing an understanding of DNA into everyday life.  The Department is continuing promotion of public awareness of science with an extensive programme of radio/television appearances and publications aimed at the general public. The Department also runs adult education courses, taster courses and work experience for local schools and colleges".

“The Department provides an exciting and challenging environment for study at graduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral levels. It contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in medicine, biological sciences and medical genetics reflecting the dynamic synergy between its research and teaching.”

DNA fingerprinting was invented in the Department by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys and applications in immigration, paternity testing, and criminal investigation have affected the lives of thousands of people worldwide. It has also led to the development of powerful technologies to study heritable DNA changes and continues impacting on genetics research. A prime example is the Department’s work on the genetic risks of exposure to radioactive contamination following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster.

Other pioneering research in the Department includes investigation of DNA defects in many inherited disorders, including inherited deafness, and common diseases such as psoriasis and eczema, impacting directly on patient welfare. Important research into infectious disease includes identification of genes affecting virulence of Campylobacter, one of the most significant bacterial organisms causing food-borne gastrointestinal disease. Research programmes using model organisms such as fruitflies and yeast are also having an impact on human welfare - identifying fundamental processes involved in behaviour and human diseases such as cancer.

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Last updated: November 2002
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