Royal Society elects four new Crick fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society has been awarded to Charlie Swanton and Vassilis Pachnis, Group Leaders at the Francis Crick Institute, Demis Hassabis, Crick Scientific Advisory Board member, and Lord David Willetts, Crick Board member.

They will join the ranks of the UK's most eminent scientists as part of the 2018 election of the new Fellows, announced today.

Charlie Swanton

"The Fellowship is a reflection of all the talented and wonderful people I have worked with at the Crick, London Research Institute and Imperial Cancer Research Fund over the last two decades," said Charlie.

"I am only here because of key scientists and mentors during my career and my fabulous lab colleagues past and present who have done all the hard work and deep thinking. None of this would have been possible without them. I am also enormously grateful to Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, the European Research Council, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Wellcome Trust for funding all the work we do."

Charlie is the head of the Translational Cancer Therapeutics Lab at the Crick which focuses on understanding why there is so much genetic diversity in cancer and what this means for patients in the clinic. Using next generation sequencing, Charlie's team look at the evolution of different types of cancer, with the hope that they will be able to predict how it will behave and the best way to treat it in the future.

Vassilis Pachnis

As a developmental biologist, Vassilis' research focusses on the genetic and molecular underpinnings of the development, assembly and maintenance of two sets of neural circuits: those that are intrinsic to the gut wall and regulate gastrointestinal activity and those that provide inhibition in the cerebral cortex of the brain. By understanding these processes, Vassilis' team hope to gain insight into what is going wrong to cause neurodevelopmental diseases.

Vassilis said: "The fellowship is testament to the work my lab members have done over the years - we're celebrating the lab's 27th birthday on Friday - with the support of the Medical Research Council and the Crick. Fellowship to this historic scientific academy is a great honour but also a great opportunity to work more closely with colleagues to engage with the public on scientific issues for the benefit of society."

Demis Hassabis & David Willetts

Demis is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company that develops general-purpose learning algorithms to help tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges.

David Willetts is Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation, Chair of the British Science Association and former Minister for Universities and Science.

Paul Nurse, Director of the Crick said: "It's great news that more Crick individuals are joining the ranks of the Royal Society. Charlie has contributed greatly to our understanding of cancer evolution over the years and Vassilis' seminal work has shed light on the fundamental principles of development. It's very good to see Demis' pioneering work in deep learning and David's consistent and high quality championing of science being celebrated too."

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