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Peter RatcliffeI am extremely proud to start the new academic year with the fabulous news that Professor Sir Peter J Ratcliffe has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for his part in the discoveries of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. This is a phenomenal achievement and extremely well deserved! My hearty congratulations goes out to Sir Peter and all the staff and students that have worked in his lab over the past 30 years to help make this possible. Sir Peter, Director for the Target Discovery Institute within the Nuffield Department of Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, shares the prize with William G. Kaelin Jr., Harvard University and Gregg L. Semenza, John Hopkins University. 

What a way to start the new academic year! I’m sure that this wonderful news will inspire all our incoming undergraduate and graduate students, who have been arriving here in Oxford over the past few weeks. I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you all to the Medical Sciences Division and hope, like me, you enjoy your time here both academically and personally. As Sir Peter’s example shows, this could be the start of great things for you all! 

In other good news, the Division, alongside the Maths, Physics and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division, has been awarded Wellcome Trust funding for three new DPhil programmes. The successful bids in MSD included Genomic Medicine and Statistics, led by Julian Knight, John Todd and Catherine Green and Cellular Structural Biology, led by Matthew Higgins, Yvonne Jones, James Naismith and Martin Walsh and in MPLS, Chemistry in Cells, led by Stuart Conway, Akane Kawamura, Frances Platt and Angela Russell. There was an additional successful bid in Health Data Science, led by Peter Diggle from Lancaster with Chris Holmes from University of Oxford. This funding allows us to continue to support graduate students and provide future leaders with a world-leading foundation in scientific training. Last but by no means least congratulations to the Radcliffe Department of Medicine who have been awarded a renewal of their Silver Athena SWAN award recognising both their tireless work towards gender equality, and their plans for the future.

I can also share the successful Medical Sciences applicants in the new Public Engagement with Research (PER) Leaders scheme. Dr Katharine Owen, a consultant endocrinologist and academic in OCDEM, Radcliffe Department of Medicine and Dr Sean Elias a Principal Investigator at the Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine were selected for the scheme, and each receive £5,000 to initiate PER-focused initiatives within their departments and units, with the aim of creating culture change and enhance support for PER.  

AOP conferenceAs the President of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland it is with great pleasure that I invite you all to next year’s annual meeting, which will be taking place here in Oxford next April. This year’s new programme format brings together world-leading scientists from across interdisciplinary translational themes, including infectious disease, big data in clinical research, diagnosis by DNA and new targets in cellular metabolism. It promises to be an exciting event, so don’t miss out - early bird registration is now open and the abstracts deadline is Monday 4 November.

At the start of the term, there is some obvious housekeeping that I’m keenly aware I must remind you about. New students and staff should take the time to look through the divisional website, as there are some terrific resources available, such as the Researchers’ Toolkit and the Research Staff Development Framework, as well as the extensive selection of courses available via the Skills Training unit and the People and Organisational Development website. You can also keep up to date with news and events via our Twitter account or by subscribing to the weekly events digest. Many of you have had questions about GDPR and the new rules and processes associated with it, and the University are continually adding information to their website (log in required)Researchers' Toolkit that will be useful in answering your queries – everything from how to handle personal data to getting consent for photos is covered. With REF on the horizon, I remind you all to continue to Act on Acceptance in order to ensure all your efforts are recognised and recorded.  Another helpful, free online resource is Research Professional, which can be used to find UK and international funding opportunities (targeted to your areas of interest), read news and analysis, and access know-how and insights from funding bodies. 

It just leaves me to wish you all a productive and happy term!

Professor Gavin Screaton, Head of Division


Images: Professor Sir Peter J Ratcliffe (top right), AOP annual meeting (middle left), Researchers' Toolkit (bottom right).