COG-UK Researcher honoured by Queen for COVID-19 work

Congratulations to Professor Emma Thomson on her royal recognition for services to the NHS during the COVID-19 response

Professor Emma Thomson, Professor in Infectious Diseases at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She has been awarded Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the NHS during the COVID-19 response.

Currently Professor Thomson is heavily involved in sequencing SARS-CoV-2 as it circulates in the UK as part of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium. She is the local principal investigator for two vaccine trials running within Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“I’m very lucky to work with many people both more and less experienced than me who I admire greatly and who make coming to work rewarding, varied and often very exciting. Everything that we do is done as a team that is a sum of very diverse but equally important parts and I learn something from them every day. This extends from those in my own research laboratory and department as a whole at the MRC Centre for Virus Research to the outstanding team at the NHS Clinical Research Facility and the Department of Infectious Diseases at the QEUH [The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow]. I hope that they will consider this award a reflection of their own achievements.

“Despite our efforts, we have not yet done enough to prevent the next virus emergence – we need to think very carefully about what we are doing as a species to prevent such events. It will only be by reducing air travel, global warming, reversing deforestation and preserving other species on the planet that we will provide security for the next generation. These are urgent issues, and I hope that some of our new students will choose careers that will help to address these challenges.”

Professor Emma Thomson, MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

In addition to her work with COVID-19, Professor Thomson’s main research focus is on emerging infections in Uganda, working closely with the Uganda Virus Research Institute and in the UK. She has looked after patients with various serious viral infections including HIV, HCV, SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola. She and her colleagues described the first case of Ebola disease relapse in The Lancet in 2016 in the nurse who returned from Sierra Leone. Internationally, she has worked as a consultant for WHO.

Professor Thomson originally trained in medicine and parasitology at the University of Glasgow, and then specialised in infectious diseases in London. Her PhD was carried out between Imperial College London and Oxford as a Wellcome fellow before setting up her research lab at the Centre for Virus Research in Glasgow. As well as her studies in Glasgow, she also works part-time at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Further Information

For more information contact Ross Barker in the University of Glasgow Communications and Public Affairs Office on 0141 330 3535 or email

Credit for Top Image: MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research and Auckland Museum, Wikimedia Commons