Festive greetings from the Lister Institute and farewell to 2020

Everyone at the Lister Institute would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2020 has been difficult for so many of us. We know that research has been disrupted and, in some cases, put on hold entirely, and our thoughts are with those of you who have lost friends and family and otherwise suffered as a result of the pandemic.With the vaccine roll-out now beginning, we would also like to thank in particular those of you who have contributed to this vital work and those who have helped combat the spread of Covid-19 and support those in need. We hope that 2021 brings fresh opportunities for research and renewed eagerness for collaboration and networking.

It was not all bad this year. We were delighted that nine of this this year’s Summer Studentships were still able to go ahead. Most of these projects took place remotely and engaged students in computer-based research.

We received 145 applications for the Lister Institute Research Prize – the highest ever number of applications. We awarded the Prizes for 2020 to four researchers who we believe have the potential to play a leading role in the development of the biomedical field in the UK and Republic of Ireland. These researchers are Dr Rebecca Lawson from the University of Cambridge, Dr Hayley Sharpe from the Babraham Institute, Dr Stephan Uphoff from the University of Oxford, and Dr Tomás Ryan from Trinity College Dublin – marking the first time we have awarded the prize to a scientist in an Irish Institution.

It has been a year of more firsts, with much of our work relying on online communication. Our Annual General Meeting was held online for the first time, and we used video call to interview the eleven shortlisted Prize candidates instead of meeting in-person at the Royal Society.

We saw Lister Fellows Peter Cullen and Muzlifah Haniffa elected as Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Professor Andrew Jackson, Dr Marius Clore, Dr Sarah Teichmann and Professor Nigel Scrutton were elected as Fellows of the Royal Society.

Lister Governing Body Committee Member Professor Sir Adrian Bird won the 2020 Brain Prize, awarded by the Lundbeck Foundation to scientists carrying out neuroscience research with ground-breaking potential. The award recognised his team’s insights into the MECP2 gene responsible for Rett syndrome, discovered by Professor Bird in 1992.

Lister Fellow Professor Robin May took up his role new as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency and in other news, the laboratory of Lister Fellow Tom Baden was granted a prestigious Wellcome Trust Investigator Award.

We look forward to continuing and expanding our support for the biomedical research community across the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2021.