Last Thursday it was a great pleasure to join Jeremy Farrar (Director of the Wellcome Trust), Sir John Savill (Chief Executive of the MRC) and others for the inauguration of the MRC Metabolic Disease Unit and launch of the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award to the Metabolic Research Laboratories. It was a tremendous acknowledgement of our very impressive research in metabolic science led by Steve O’Rahilly and Nick Wareham which involves many outstanding investigators. As pointed out by John Savill, research in Cambridge has fundamentally altered how the world thinks about obesity.
Pictured from left to right: Prof Patrick Maxwell, Prof Sir Steve O’Rahilly (Co-director IMS), Prof Nick Wareham (Co-director IMS), Prof Sir John Savill (Chief Executive MRC), Prof Jeremy Farrar (Director, Wellcome Trust), Ms Jane Ramsey, Chair CUH NHS Foundation Trust.
Earlier this month I made a rather brief trip to Canada to join the Medical Advisory Board for the Gairdner International Awards. This is the first time I have been a member of a panel adjudicating major international prizes, and it was a real privilege in two ways. First, I thoroughly enjoyed spending a day with the individuals who sit on the board, seven of whom have won Nobel prizes. Second, it was both inspiring and humbling to review the nominees, and their extraordinary range of scientific discoveries. A reservation was the amount of travelling involved which has a number of downsides including the environmental impact and the time away from Cambridge. In this particular instance, I think the process did require having everyone in the same room. Also I think it was vital that some of the panel were from outside North America. However, despite some very important benefits of travelling, I’d encourage everyone to think carefully each time they make a long-distance travel commitment. Apparently the carbon footprint of the university attributable to staff flying round the globe is enormous. Some of you may already be composing e-mails to me saying that I don’t set a great example. Please don’t bother – I’m happy to plead guilty! But I would be delighted to have your thoughts on this and other issues via Regius@medschl.cam.ac.uk
Patrick H Maxwell FMedSci
Regius Professor of Physic & Head of the School of Clinical Medicine