Northumbria University awarded seven-figure funding to conduct ‘world-leading’ research

Two renowned biomedical researchers have been awarded £1m to undertake ‘world-leading’ research into diseases such as prostate cancer and mitochondrial disease at Northumbria University.

The grant funding has been awarded by the Academy of Medical Sciences as part of its commitment to attract and retain talent from across the globe to take up Professorships in the UK. Only three of these ‘prestigious’ awards have been granted in this round.

Two of them went to researchers who have recently been recruited by Northumbria University, a clear sign of the University’s growing reputation for research excellence. Fewer than 20 awards have been made since the inception of the scheme, and this is only the second time that two awards have been made to the same university.

The award will support Professor Emile R. Chimusa to establish his bioinformatics and computational biology research programme at Northumbria University, after moving from the University of Cape Town.

Professor Simon Johnson has joined Northumbria from the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute where he has been investigating genetic mitochondrial disease, in particular Leigh Syndrome.

The grants will enable the new Professors to conduct research that advances medical science and translate their developments into benefits for patients and the wider society.

Professor Chimusa uses novel approaches in artificial intelligence (AI) to look at genomic studies and assess how certain groups in society are susceptible to diseases, in particular, prostate cancer. He plans to use his grant to establish a new research team of experts in artificial intelligence and statistical genetics, as well as wider health and clinical researchers.

He said: “I’m over the moon to join the other Academy of Medical Sciences Professorship awardees and be the first Black African to receive this prestigious award. This funding will help me to make a step-change in disease-risk prediction, using AI, and will lead, to name just one example, to an improved risk prediction of prostate cancer in diverse ethnic groups.

Professor Johnson’s research specialises in the pathology and physiology of genetic mitochondrial disease, looking at ways that treatment can be best targeted. He has focused on Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological disorder developing in infancy that affects the central nervous system and leads to progressive loss of mental and movement abilities.

He added: “I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided by the Academy of Medical Sciences Professorship and can’t overstate how much of an impact this will have on the transition of my research programme to the UK.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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