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We are delighted to announce that Professor KJ Patel has been appointed as the new Director of the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit at the University of Oxford.

Professor KJ Patel FRS FMedSci will start full-time as Director of the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (MRC WIMM) and the MRC Molecular Haematology Unit (MRC MHU) from 1st June 2020. Between 1st April to 31st May, Professor Patel will be managing these two roles on a part-time basis, whilst transitioning his research programme from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (MRC LMB), where he is currently based.

Professor Hugh Watkins, Head of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, said “I am delighted to welcome KJ to the department and am excited about his vision for the MRC MHU and the MRC WIMM. KJ is a scientist of the highest distinction whose own work epitomises how fundamental molecular insights drive important medical advances.”

Professor Patel trained as a physician in London, specialising in gastroenterology. He completed a PhD with the late Michael Neuberger FRS at the MRC LMB in B cell immunology, and later returned to the MRC LMB as an MRC Clinician Scientist working with Professor Ashok Venkitaraman FMedSci. There, he and others discovered that BRCA2 is a DNA repair factor.

“I am delighted to be appointed to this position” said Professor Patel “When preparing for an exam as a medical student, I was given a book that I read overnight and changed the course of my career. The book was ‘Genetics and Clinical Medicine’ by David Weatherall. So it seems fitting that I find myself coming to the MRC WIMM at this stage of my career, considering the impact that it had on me at the start of it.”

Professor Patel is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a member of EMBO. The Patel group currently investigates the genetic and physiological foundations of DNA crosslink repair, explaining why this is essential in haematopoiesis.