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Ravi Gupta and Sharon Peacock to be guest speakers at the Christmas Lectures

CUH consultant Prof Ravi Gupta and Non-Exec Director, Prof Sharon Peacock will be joining Jonathan Van-Tam to talk about pandemic collaborations at this year’s famous Christmas Lectures.

Each has played a key role in the UK’s response to the ongoing Covid pandemic and together, they will offer insights into the world of viruses – how they arise and proliferate, and how we humans respond – from testing and modelling to vaccine development and infection control.

They also will reveal why discoveries and advances made during the on-going pandemic will have an impact far beyond COVID-19 and are set to change the future of medicine.

The Christmas Lectures have been inspiring children and adults alike since they were started by Michael Faraday 1895. They are now broadcast on national television every year and recognised as the UK's flagship science series.

Hosted by the Royal Institution, this year’s lectures are entitled: ‘Going viral: How Covid changed science forever’. England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jonathan Van-Tam will be joined by a host of top UK scientists to take a deep dive into many and varied viruses, including COVID-19, and reveal why discoveries and advances made during the on-going pandemic – from early detection techniques to new vaccines – mean biological science will never be the same again.

Prof Ravi Gupta Non-executive director - Sharon Peacock
Prof Ravi Gupta
Prof Ravi Gupta
Non-executive director - Sharon Peacock
Prof Sharon Peacock

Professor Ravi Gupta, is Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease and an infectious diseases consultant at CUH. Using his expertise in RNA virus genetics and biology, Ravi’s work during the pandemic has included reporting the first genotypic-phenotypic evidence for immune escape of SARS-CoV-2 within an individual, defining the process by which new variants are likely to arise, and defining the immune escape and transmissibility advantage of the Delta variant as the driver behind its global expansion.

Professor Sharon Peacock CBE, is a non-executive director at CUH and a Professor of Public Health and Microbiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. During the pandemic Sharon has Chaired the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, delivering large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing to local NHS centres and the UK government, and helping to inform UK public health interventions and policies.

Also taking part as Guest Lecturers are:

  • Professor Julia Gog OBE, a Professor of Mathematical Biology at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge and the David N. Moore Fellow and Director of Studies in Mathematics at Queens' College, Cambridge. Professor Katie Ewer, a cellular immunologist and Associate Professor at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford.
  • Professor Teresa Lambe OBE, an Associate Professor based in the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford.
  • Professor Catherine Noakes OBE, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings at the University of Leeds.

We are delighted that Jonathan will be joined by such an exciting and expert group of scientists during this year’s series of three Christmas Lectures.

Lucinda Hunt, Director of the Royal Institution

She added: "They will work together to take us on a journey through the world of viruses – how they arise, how they proliferate, and how science and society responds – just as they are doing in tackling the current pandemic. What a strong and positive message that will be for our young audience, about the power of collaborative science.”

Patrick Holland, BBC Director, Factual, Arts and Classical Music Television, said: “Scientists across the world have responded to the Covid crisis with expertise and ingenuity that is humbling for us all. It is no exaggeration to say that the path of history has been changed because of the work of vaccine scientists and epidemiologists.

“Jonathan and his team will give us another exciting and thought-provoking series of Lectures, covering so much more than COVID-19. This will be a celebration of science and of the scientists whose advances are shaping our world.”

The 2021 Christmas Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four and iPlayer between Christmas and New Year.