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New Year MBE for services to Covid research

Congratulations to Beth Blane, awarded an MBE for services to pathogen genome sequencing and her role in helping to track Covid variants during the pandemic.

Beth Blane
Beth Blane

I am very grateful to receive this award, and am so pleased that the value of pathogen genome sequencing is gaining recognition.

Beth Blane

Beth Blane is a research assistant and laboratory manager at the University of Cambridge in the research group of Sharon Peacock CBE, professor of public health and microbiology in the Department of Medicine.

She trained as a biomedical scientist at the Clinical Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory based at the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), before deciding to focus on research at the University of Cambridge in 2012.

At the start of the pandemic, she became a key member of the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, directed by Professor Peacock to track down new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus through a network of UK labs carrying out genomic sequencing.

This genomic data was integral to vaccine development, tracking variants and understanding changes in diseases severity from Covid-19 and remains a vital part of keeping Covid vaccines effective.

In her role as logistics manager for COG-UK, Beth ensured SARS-CoV-2 samples were successfully transported and sequenced across the whole COG-UK network.

On receiving her MBE, Beth said:

‘I am very grateful to receive this award, and am so pleased that the value of pathogen genome sequencing is gaining recognition.

"After working to develop and implement MRSA sequencing at Addenbrooke’s, along with other significant pathogens, our research group was in an ideal position contribute to the pandemic response."

Read more about Beth Blane and her role at COG-UK here.

Sharon Peacock
Professor Sharon Peacock

Beth worked tirelessly to bring genome sequence data to CUH and elsewhere - she was key to sample logistics for the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium.

Professor Sharon Peacock

Professor Sharon Peacock, Executive Director of the Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, added:

"Beth found creative ways to identify and move PCR samples from patients with Covid-19 admitted to NHS hospitals to sequencing laboratories so that genome data could be generated and made available for the pandemic response."

The King’s New Year Honours list 2023 recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom.

The University of Cambridge's Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Anthony Freeling, congratulated those being honoured:

"How wonderful to see people so closely linked to the Collegiate University being recognised in the New Year Honours list. It’s gratifying to see dedicated service acknowledged and rewarded in this way.

"My warmest congratulations to those colleagues and friends of the University who have been honoured for their commitment and their achievements."