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Reflecting on the MRC Millennium Medal 2020 Nominations

by Guest Author on 25 Nov 2020

For the first time, the MRC Millennium Medal 2020 successfully opened for nominations to recognise outstanding MRC-funded researchers that demonstrate scientific excellence and impact across the research environment. Here, Dr Glenn Wells, Director of Strategy and Planning at the Medical Research Council (MRC), reflects on the high-quality nominations received for the Medal.

We are truly delighted by the number of exceptional nominations received for this year’s MRC Millennium Medal 2020. As the new Director of Strategy and Planning at the MRC, I was particularly inspired to see the diverse ways that MRC-funded researchers make a difference to people’s lives, ranging from advancing medical research to transforming the entire research landscape.

In total, we received 21 outstanding nominations across the UK. A common trait throughout all nominees was the high level of scientific excellence, impact and international reputation in their respective fields. From leading advances in cardiovascular disease, to cancer, to infectious diseases, to name but a few; it was clear to me that the scientists nominated are world-leaders who have changed the face of medical research both nationally and internationally.

Dr Glenn Wells

It was encouraging to see how the nominees not only pursue excellent research but also work to mobilise and translate their discoveries. Several nominees had translated their scientific discoveries into revolutionary new treatments and services for patients and worked tirelessly in the understanding and response to COVID-19. This demonstrates the dedication that MRC-funded researchers have, to improving patient lives and wellbeing.

I was inspired to see the impact that all the nominees have had, such as improving research culture and integrity, fostering collaborations, reducing waste in research and training the next generation of scientists. Through the establishment of initiatives and schemes to advance research and science, and devoting time to sit on panels and boards, they demonstrated their commitment to supporting the research environment, nationally and internationally.

It is clear from the nominations received that there is more progress to make in encouraging diversity in the research environment. While there were some shining examples of our research leaders contributing towards this critical goal, by advocating for scientists from underrepresented groups in medical research, as well as acting as role models and mentors to aspiring scientists, next year we hope to see a more diverse and representative field of nominations.

It has been inspiring to see the incredible achievements of MRC-funded researchers, all of whom are exceptional individuals and scientists and would be worthy winners and we want to thank the MRC community for their unrelenting commitment to our shared endeavour of improving health through research. I look forward to finding out in December who the Strategy Board and Council announce as this year’s MRC Millennium Medal 2020 winner.

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