Sharon Tooze and Jesper Svejstrup recognised with Academy of Medical Sciences Fellowship

The Academy of Medical Sciences has granted fellowships to Sharon Tooze and Jesper Svejstrup, Senior Group Leaders at the Francis Crick Institute.

Sharon and Jesper are two of 48 new Fellows who have been elected for their outstanding contributions to biomedical and health science, leading research discoveries, and translating developments into benefits for patients and the wider society.

Director of the Crick, Paul Nurse, said: "Sharon and Jesper have made great contributions to their fields over the years and their research is a great example of how integral basic biomedical research is to clinical advances."

Robert Lechler, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said: "The Academy simply could not tackle major health and policy challenges without our dynamic and diligent brain trust of Fellows. I extend my warmest congratulations to all who are joining us this year, each of whom has earnt this prestige by advancing their own field of biomedical science."

Sharon Tooze

"As a fundamental biologist it's really rewarding to be recognized by the Academy of Medical Sciences for the potential of my research and the work of my lab members to make a clinical impact," said Sharon.

Sharon is head of the Crick's Molecular Cell Biology of Autophagy Lab, a team that focusses on understanding how cells keep themselves clean and healthy through a process called autophagy.

Our cells create internal 'recycling bins' called autophagosomes that collect diseased, dead, or worn-out cell parts, strips them for useful bits, and uses the resulting molecules for energy to make new healthy cell parts.

By figuring out the basic mechanisms of autophagy, Sharon and her team hope to gain insights into what happens when it goes wrong and leads to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Jesper Svejstrup

Jesper, also a fundamental biologist, researches DNA repair and transcription - the process by which the information in genes is copied into so-called messenger RNA before translation into proteins - which plays a fundamental role in regulating all cellular functions.

When DNA repair or transcription go wrong it can lead to a whole host of problems, from neurological disorders to cancer.

Throughout his career, Jesper has applied his insights into these processes to shed light on rare diseases such as xeroderma pigmentosum, in which a person's ability to repair DNA damage after UV light exposure is reduced, and Cockayne's syndrome, a fatal neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by premature ageing.

"For a group that studied these basic cellular reactions in bakers' yeast for many years and only recently moved to studying them in human cells, being elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences is a big deal. I'm delighted!" said Jesper, who heads up the Mechanisms of Transcription Lab at the Crick.

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