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Left to right: Professor Sallie Lamb, Professor Chrissie Thirlwell and Professor Soojin Ryu

Newly appointed Mireille Gillings Fellows will develop future women leaders in health science

The University of Exeter has appointed three Mireille Gillings Professorial Fellows in Health Innovation. The new recruits are all outstanding academics who will help develop the next generation of female leaders that excel in medicine, science, leadership and business.

The posts have been funded from a £10 million donation from the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation – the largest single gift ever made to the University.

The new Fellows bring outstanding expertise to the University’s College of Medicine and Health, in cancer, back pain and frailty and the study of stress.

Sallie Lamb, Mireille Gillings Professor of Health Innovation, is a physiotherapist and clinical trials expert. She has developed interventions including a widely-adopted movement programme for the common and often debilitating symptom of lower back pain.

Soojin Ryu, Mireille Gillings Professor of Neurobiology, is a globally-renowned expert on stress. She has made major advances in the field by developing the zebrafish model in which stress hormones can be manipulated. 

Medical oncologist and cancer expert Chrissie Thirlwell, Mireille Gillings Professor of Cancer Genomics, is a world leader on neuroendocrine tumours, who has built up impactful international networks. At Exeter, she will study why people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of cancer.

These three Fellowships provide opportunities for female leaders to develop the business acumen required to lead entrepreneurial activity that will have meaningful benefits for health worldwide. All three successful candidates demonstrated a track record in promoting and inspiring women, as part of the University’s award-winning commitment to gender equality, helping to address a shortfall of women in senior roles worldwide.

This passion is shared by Dr Mireille Gillings who is championing the Fellowships. She is a neuroscientist, business entrepreneur and founder of HUYA Bioscience International the global leader in accelerating drug development of biopharma innovation originating in China. Dr Mireille Gillings said: “I’m delighted by the calibre of these appointments. They are all outstanding researchers, and equally as importantly, they have demonstrated their commitment to promoting women throughout their careers. I’m looking forward to working with them on further developing the essentials to a successful global research career with real benefits for patients.”

Professor Janice Kay, Provost of the University of Exeter, said: “These fantastic appointments will make an enormous impact. I’m excited to see collaborations emerge with our community of outstanding academics. We’re extremely grateful to Mireille and Dennis for supporting these Fellowships. The appointments are great news for Exeter and are absolutely in line with our ethos of supporting and promoting women. I’m really excited to see what they go on to achieve in their exciting areas of health research and in championing equality.”

Date: 4 December 2019