Professor Janet Darbyshire worked in medicine and then clinical trial based research from the early 1970s. Playing an instrumental role in the development of HIV treatment, she’s worked on and coordinated many clinical trial programmes in the UK and Africa. Last month we celebrated her achievements at a ceremony held within the Houses of Parliament, awarding Janet our most prestigious award, the MRC Millennium Medal. Here Janet tells us about her early memories of medicine, giraffes in Africa and the changes she’s seen her research make to people’s lives.
Career in brief
- Qualified in medicine at The University of Manchester in 1970
- MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 1990
- Became head of the MRC HIV Clinical Trials Centre in London in 1989
- In 1998 established, and became director of, the MRC Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
- Awarded an OBE in 1996 and a CBE in 2010 for services to clinical sciences
Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Alan Stein is helping HIV-positive women with depression during pregnancy and the postnatal period. By improving their wellbeing he wants to help their children get the best start in life. He explains what his team has achieved so far in South Africa and the global implications of this work.
Imagine receiving an HIV diagnosis when you’re pregnant. You’re bringing a new life into the world. Then you receive news that you have an infection which requires lifelong treatment. You’re unsure if you will pass it onto your child and you may feel stigmatised. Disclosing your HIV status to your partner, or family, may also be a major worry.
Christoffer van Tulleken
In his winning article for the Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2014, Dr Christoffer van Tulleken tells us what a chicken has got to do with HIV, and how his research studying how the virus interacts with machinery inside our cells may, or may not, lead to new drugs.
The most important chicken in medical history was a Plymouth Barred Rock Hen from New York. The chicken’s name is not recorded but in 1911 she was brought by her owner to a young pathologist called Peyton Rous because of a large tumour growing out of her neck.
Rous subsequently performed a series of experiments so elegant it is hard to believe he didn’t know what he was looking for. He showed that the filtered extract from the tumour, containing no actual tumour cells, could cause more tumours in another chicken. Rous had discovered a type of virus that can cause cancer called a retrovirus. Read more