The 4th annual Building Bridges in Medical Sciences (BBMS) symposium was held in October 2011 at the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge. The speakers for the day included Dr James Watson, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Sir Michael Marmot, Sir Alan Fersht, Professor Luke O’Neill and Professor Ruth McKernan.

To see a review  of BBMS11 written by one of the attendees and committee member, Jennifer Warren, and published in Bluesci click here.


Committee chair: Warren Hochfeld


Dr. James Watson
Nobel Prize Winner, NIH

Dr. Watson is well known for his work with Francis Crick, which earned them the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of the structure of DNA. During his prolific career he has served as Director of the Human Genome Project at NIH, written many books, been awarded numerous prizes and received honorary degrees from 32 universities.


Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz:

Sir Leszek Krzysztof Borysiewicz was Chief Executive of the UK’s Medical Research Council from 2007 to 2010 and was instrumental in developing research into neglected diseases. His research interests lie in viral immunology, infectious diseases, cell mediated immunity, virus-associated malignancy and vaccine development. He was knighted in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List for his contribution to medical education and research into developing vaccines, including work towards a vaccine to combat cervical cancer.


Professor Sir Alan Fersht
Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge

Professor Alan Fersht’s current research involves using structural and biophysical methods to study how mutation affects proteins in the cell cycle, particularly the tumour suppressor p53, in order to design novel anti-cancer drugs that function by restoring the activity of mutated proteins. He has won several international awards, has been awarded honorary degrees from Uppsala, Brussels, Weizmann Institute, Imperial College and The Hebrew University and was knighted in 2003 for his work on protein science.


Professor Sir Michael Marmot
MRC Research Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London

With over 500 scientific papers, Sir Michael Marmot is a world expert in health inequalities and the social determinants of health, and has led a research group on this issue for the past 30 years. He has received a number of awards for his work and in 2000 he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for services to epidemiology and understanding health inequalities.


Professor Ruth McKernan
Chief Scientific Officer of the Regenerative Medicine Unit at Pfizer

Professor McKernan joined Pfizer three years ago and has been a leader in Pfizer’s commitment to emerging therapeutic opportunities. She is now Chief Scientific Officer of the newly-formed Regenerative Medicine Unit with research groups in the both the UK and the US. Scientifically, McKernan is best known for her neuroscience research on ligand-gated ion channels. She is the author of over 120 publications and 15 patents and is a visiting professor at King’s College, London.


Professor Luke O’Neill
Trinity College Doublin

Professor Luke O’Neill leads the Inflammation Research Group at Trinity College Dublin where his research is focused on the molecular basis to inflammatory diseases, with a particular interest in pro-inflammatory cytokines and Toll-like receptors. He has published over 200 papers and reviews and has won numerous awards for his research, including the Royal Dublin Society/ Irish Times Boyle medal for Scientific Excellence and the Science Foundation Ireland Researcher of the Year Award 2009.