Crick group leader Rickie Patani has been awarded the 2020 Graham Bull Prize in Clinical Science and Goulstonian Lectureship of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
The Goulstonian Lecture was endowed in memory of Dr Theodore Goulston and has been bestowed every year since 1639, making it one of the world’s longest running medical awards. And the Graham Bull Prize was established in 1988 in honour of the first director of the MRC Clinical Research Centre.
They are awarded jointly each year by the RCP one researcher under the age of 45 who have made a major contribution to clinical science. Previous recipients include some of the UK’s best-known clinician scientists - Rickie now joins a group of previous winners from the Crick, including Peter Ratcliffe, Keith Peters and Charles Swanton.
In addition to running the Crick’s Human Stem Cells and Neurodegeneration Laboratory, Rickie is a Professor at UCL’s Queen Square Institute of Neurology and a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. He is also a strong advocate for more clinicians getting involved in basic research.
At the Crick, Rickie’s research is focused on understanding the development and progression of neurodegenerative conditions, in particular, motor neurone disease. People with this devastating disease typically only live for 3-5 years after diagnosis and there are currently no effective treatments that can alter this prognosis.
The RCP specifically recognised his work developing a robust and patient specific human stem cell-derived model for motor neurone disease, and using this model to make new and fundamental insights into the condition that could lead to new treatments in the future.
His team work with human induced pluripotent stem cells to grow and study different cell types within the nervous system. These master stem cells can be taught to differentiate into any cell from anywhere in the human body.
This valuable research tool bypasses the need for artificial genetic manipulation or animal models, which although have been immensely useful across a range of basic and applied neuroscience, have not yet delivered the much-needed therapies required for devastating neurological diseases such as motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
On hearing the news, Rickie said: “I am deeply honoured and grateful to be awarded the Graham Bull Prize and Goulstonian Lectureship from the Royal College of Physicians. I feel privileged to work with a group of extremely dedicated and talented scientists in my research laboratory in addition to some great collaborators and mentors. This award reflects the highly interdisciplinary and unparalleled research environments at The Francis Crick Institute and UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. We are committed to curing neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.”
Paul Nurse, director of the Crick, said: “Congratulations to Rickie for this Royal College of Physicians Prize and Lecture.”
“The Crick is committed to breaking down barriers between basic and clinical research. Work such as Rickie’s illustrates what partnerships between lab researchers and health professionals can achieve.”