Queen honours three COG-UK scientists in 2020 Birthday List
Dr Tony Cox and Professor Emma Thomson become OBEs, while Dr Catherine Moore receives an MBE, for their services in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
Three scientists from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, representing research efforts in England, Scotland and Wales, have been honoured by the Queen for their roles in delivering vital services during the first phase of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Their work helped to establish the UK’s national network of testing and DNA sequencing of the virus to help guide the country’s public health response.
Dr Anthony Cox becomes an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to science and the COVID-19 response. As Chief Executive of the UK BIOcentre in Milton Keynes, he led the work to automate and ramp up its testing and analysis services to become one of the country’s Lighthouse Labs, analysing coronavirus tests given to the public. Under his direction, the centre has moved from analysing hundreds of swabs by hand to handling up to 40,000 tests a day through automation.
“It’s an enormous privilege to receive this honour, but the most important thing to recognise is that it reflects on the huge efforts of a very dedicated team of staff here and what they have achieved over the last few months.”
Professor Emma Thomson, an expert in Infectious Diseases at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, has been honoured with an OBE for services to the NHS during the COVID-19 reponse. Professor Thomson plays a key role in sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 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.
“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.”
Professor Emma Thomson, MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, and COG-UK consortium member
Dr Catherine Moore, consultant clinical scientist at Public Health Wales microbiology laboratory at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, has become a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Public Health during Covid-19. Dr Moore swiftly realised the importance of COVID-19 and began studying samples of the virus before any case had been reported in the United Kingdom. She also led the work of her laboratory to enable it become the second centre in the UK that could test for, and analyse, the virus.
“I am surprised and happy to receive an MBE but, like everyone else in this pandemic, I have just been doing my job as I’ve always done throughout my career.
“I’m dedicating my MBE to my family who haven’t seen me properly since January and everyone who I work with across Public Health Wales, especially in the specialist virology centre in Cardiff. Their ongoing positivity and resilience throughout what has been an often difficult time for the laboratory team continues to inspire me.”
Asymptomatic screening and genome sequencing help Cambridge understand spread of SARS-CoV-2 among its students
Since the start of the academic year in October 2020, the University of Cambridge has been offering regular SARS-CoV-2 tests to all students living in its Colleges, even if they show no symptoms. Initial results suggest that the screening programme, together with the University’s public health measures and responsible student behaviour, has helped limit the spread of the virus.
‘World-class’ CLIMB project receives £1.2 million funding boost from UKRI
As part of a wider £213 million investment to expand and upgrade ‘world-class’ research infrastructure, the Cloud Infrastructure for Microbial Bioinformatics (CLIMB) project — the ultra-high performance computing infrastructure which has supported the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium throughout the pandemic — has received a £1.2 million funding boost from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).