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Professor Hugh Watkins FRS

Hugh Watkins elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society

May 2017

Hugh Watkins, Radcliffe Professor of Medicine and Professorial Fellow at Merton, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Commenting on his election, Professor Watkins said:

"I am thrilled and feel very fortunate to become to become an FRS. Relatively few clinical academics achieve this. I have been lucky to have talented and committed colleagues who have made this possible."

Professor Watkins was appointed to the Field Marshal Alexander Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford in 1996, having worked previously at Harvard University. He took up his current position as Radcliffe Professor of Medicine last year and joined Merton at that point. Throughout his career he has worked on understanding the genetic basis of inherited heart muscle diseases and it was in recognition for this work that he was elected to the Royal Society. His research, he comments, illustrates the way in which genetics can be used to unlock previously unknown disease mechanisms:

"I set out, with colleagues from the US and the UK, to try to find the molecular basis of a form of inherited heart condition that can cause young people to die suddenly. Through identifying the underlying disease genes we were able to come up with new ways of identifying individuals and families at risk and then to use existing treatments, and new ones arising from our research, to protect them."

He says that this work has proved an exciting opportunity to conduct translational research together with colleagues in the NHS, noting: "our diagnostic laboratory has now provided testing for 10,000 families, so we are reaching a lot of people".