2013 Lister Fellow, Professor Anne Straube, explains how the Prize Fellowship came at a critical time for her and her research. The Marie Curie Research Institute was closing down, two years into starting her own lab… and while Anne was pregnant. The disruption meant it was hard for her to establish herself in her research field, but winning the Lister gave Anne faith that she was on the right path.
We speak to Professor Judy Armitage about how the Lister Prize allowed her to start her own lab studying bacterial behaviour. Now retired, Judy was one of the first cohort of Lister Fellows – an opportunity that allowed her to “go off on a complete tangent.” She gives her thanks to a female colleague in another department who encouraged her to apply. Without her and the Lister Prize, Judy would probably would not have become academic scientist.
The Chair of the Lister’s Scientific Advisory Group, Professor Julian Blow, recalls his pride at winning the Jenner Centenary Fellowship in 1991 after Former Fellow Professor Judy Armitage encouraged him to apply. Meeting other people who were also dealing with the challenges of starting an independent research group for the first time was hugely important for Julian.
When Professor Pete Cullen won the Lister Prize in 1999, he was already a lecturer, but the Prize allowed him to “go back to the bench.” The funds allowed him the intellectual freedom to enter a completely new field of research. Without that five-year window, he would never have been able to get further funding that allowed him to build the lab in the subsequent years.
Professor Robin May says that winning the Prize in 2010 was fundamental to the trajectory of his career. The flexibility of the funds allowed him to adapt his research in response to an outbreak of a lethal fungal infection and invest in new methods, such as DNA sequencing. Robin also found it useful in underwriting new recruits to his lab.