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Richard Gilbertson elected to the Royal Society

Congratulations to Professor Richard Gilbertson, research lead for the new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, now recognised for his scientific excellence by the Royal Society.

Prof Richard Gilbertson
Prof Richard Gilbertson is a paediatric physician-scientist.

I am truly delighted and humbled to receive this recognition that I share with all the wonderful students, trainees and colleagues I have worked with over the years.

Prof Richard Gilbertson

Richard Gilbertson joins over 60 exceptional scientists from around the world newly elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

He is one of nine leading researchers from the University of Cambridge to receive the honour this year, including Professor Paul Lehner, also a consultant in infectious diseases at Addenbrookes. See here.

Richard Gilbertson is Joint Delivery Board co-chair and research lead for the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, which will bring together clinical expertise at Addenbrooke’s Hospital with world-class scientists across the University of Cambridge and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre. Together, they will work in the heart of new clinic and hospital spaces, bringing the research bench to the bedside.

He is also Li Ka Shing Chair of Oncology and Head of Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge, Director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre and Senior Group Leader, CRUK Cambridge Institute.

Professor Gilbertson’s laboratory research is focused on understanding the link between normal development and the origins of cancer, particularly children's brain tumours.

He has identified the origins of common and aggressive childhood brain tumours and many of the genetic alterations that drive these tumours.

His world-leading research has helped establish a direct link between disordered development and the multiple different brain tumour types observed in children: contributing directly to their classification by the World Health Organisation (WHO); changing the way conventional treatments are used, sparing children from unnecessary side effects; and underpinning clinical trials of new therapies.

I’ve been fortunate to work with incredibly talented people and this honour recognises the commitment of the many past and present members of my group who have contributed to our work.

Prof Paul Lehner, consultant CUH

Paul Lehner, who has also been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society, is a CUH consultant and professor of immunology and medicine at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at the University of Cambridge.

He studies virus-host antagonism and how our genome is defended from invasion by RNA-derived retroelements such as HIV.

His discovery of the ‘HUSH’ epigenetic silencing complex explains how the genome distinguishes new genetic material from endogenous genes through recognition of intronless DNA. This work uncovered an unanticipated surveillance system that discriminates ‘self’ from ‘non-self’ genomic DNA and defends our genome against the reverse flow of genetic information (RNA to DNA), paving the way to novel applications in medicine and biotechnology.

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said:

“It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe.”