Awards and achievements for two Lister Fellows

Two current Lister Fellows are celebrating major achievements in preventive medicine. For Ravi Gupta, February saw the release of a global report by the pandemic risk task force of which he is a Chair. For Tanmay Bharat, two separate awards have recognised his work on the molecular ‘glue’ that helps build microbe biofilms and microbiomes.

Ravi Gupta: Pandemic pathogen task force report

Lister Fellow Ravindra Gupta spoke at the launch of a pivotal new report on how safer research can mitigate the risk of future pandemics. Ravi is among the Chairs of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Independent Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks, which released its report, titled A Framework for Tomorrow’s Pathogen Research, on February 28th at the UN headquarters in New York City.

Ravi joined the multidisciplinary task force in his capacity as a virologist, having worked on HIV/AIDS for many years and more recently on SARS-CoV 2, the pathogen responsible for Covid. The task force collaborated virtually between 2022 and 2024, assessing the risks and benefits of research involving pathogens which could potentially trigger epidemics and even pandemics.

“Viruses have been a scourge on humanity for millennia, from smallpox to HIV/AIDS,” Ravi said. “Persistence and innovation in scientific research are critical if we are to deal with future pandemics and unknown pathogens emerging from nature. This underscores the value and essential nature of biomedical research for the continuation of our species.

“At the same time, we must carry out research wisely and with vigilance. We need to regulate activities with potentially dangerous samples, including those from animals, and bear in mind that valuable research can be carried out with surrogate systems in place of live viruses.

“I have been proud and honoured to be part of the task force, and particularly to be one of the Chairs. This endeavour brought together a range of virologists whose expertise helps us understand how we can mitigate risk in the future. Pathogens with unknown qualities must be high on our list of priorities.”

Read the report online

Tanmay Bharat: Microbiology awards

Meanwhile, the work of Lister Fellow Tanmay Bharat has been recognised by not one but two awarding bodies. Tanmay was awarded the Microbiology Society’s Fleming Prize and also named as a finalist in the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists’ 2023 UK Awards (Life Sciences category).

Tanmay’s group at the University of Cambridge studies molecules on the cell surfaces of prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea). The substances allow these unicellular organisms to form biofilms and microbiomes, which are important in health and disease and are implicated in antibiotic resistance.

Tanmay’s team has developed cutting-edge electron tomography techniques to explore cell surface chemicals on a molecular level. Their findings represent a new understanding of how multicellular biofilms and microbiomes are formed and maintained.

“I am delighted to be selected for the Microbiology Society Fleming Prize, as well as becoming a Blavatnik UK Honouree,” Tanmay told us.

“This recognition is, in no small part, attributable to the visibility and support provided by the Lister Prize. This recognition motivates me to carry on working on fundamental biomedical problems relevant to multicellular microorganisms (biofilms and microbiomes) in my laboratory at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.”

Learn more about Tanmay’s work