I am very pleased to write my first introduction to the annual RDM newsletter.
A lot of my time since my appointment as Head of the Radcliffe Department of Medicine earlier this year has been spent having conversations with many of you, to listen to your views and comments, including at the first RDM HoD Q&A on Wednesday 21 September. This is the first of a continuing series of events- the next Q&A is over an informal lunch organised by the RDM Researcher Association on Tuesday 31 January 2023: registration for this event is now open, and everybody at RDM is welcome. Further details will be in the RDM weekly bulletin as usual.
The HoD Q&A will be a regular event throughout the year at different locations, and the next one after January will be at OCDEM, from 12.00-1.30pm on Thursday 27 April 2023. The feedback from these and other meetings is one of the many strands that I will pull together when making decisions about how to make RDM an attractive place to work in, which continues to produce world-leading research. I am particularly pleased to see how so many staff have overcome the challenges of the pandemic to get their research and teaching programmes back to full activity, often incorporating new and creative ways of working.
One important part of the vision for RDM is to promote cross-cutting themes that build on our multidisciplinary strengths and enable us to work more collectively across RDM’s divisions. At the RDM symposium in March 2023 we will introduce some of these themes, and identify ways to develop them across the Department. Please do save the date for the symposium (Tuesday 14 March 2023), which this year takes place at the new location of the Saïd Business School.
This year marks the departure of some of our long-standing staff, including Lynn Clee, who so ably served as the RDM administrator since the department was founded, and Dr Ruth McCaffrey, our long-standing Research Strategy coordinator, who helped shape the careers of so many young investigators at RDM. Our thanks to them, and a warm welcome to Dr Jane Sherwood, our new Head of Administration. We are also in the process of appointing a new Head of Research Strategy, so that we can continue to support researchers through their career, and attract the funding that is crucial to maintain the breadth and excellence of our research work.
Many of the multi-disciplinary research projects fostered at RDM are already bearing fruit, with the newly launched Multidisciplinary Imaging and Interventional Centre (AMIIC) installing the world’s first photon-counting CT scanner in a hybrid catheterisation laboratory, and welcoming its first patient.
Also hosted within RDM are two of three new NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Units (BTRUs) at Oxford University: the precision cellular therapeutics theme, led by Prof Ronjon Chakraverty, will develop new kinds of cell therapies for blood disorders and blood cancer, and improved systems for following up patients receiving treatment. The Data Driven Transfusion practice theme, led by Prof Simon Stanworth, seeks to accelerate the development of data-driven methods to optimise blood use and integrate them within routine practice to improve patient outcomes.
Last, but certainly not least, this year also saw the official announcement of Prof Hugh Watkins’ CureHeart project winning the £30 million Big Beat Challenge research award from the British Heart Foundation. The project aims to develop the first cures for inherited heart muscle diseases, by pioneering precise gene therapy technologies that can edit or silence the faulty genes that cause these conditions.
There is an even longer list of the many other awards and prizes that our researchers have won – you can read more about these here. All of these projects exemplify the quality and impact of our research. I am grateful to all of RDM's many talented and hard-working staff, across all areas of the Department, who have made 2022 a year of great successes, and will ensure that we can look forward to an exciting and productive 2023.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,