News archive 2009
Royal Society of Medicine Fellowship awarded07 Aug 2009, PR 162/09
Tom Lehner, Professor of Basic and Applied Immunology from the Mucosal Immunology Unit at the Dental Institute, has been awarded an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine in recognition of his huge and sustained contributions to the field of basic and applied immunology.
The citation was given by Mr John Skuse, Treasurer of the Royal Society of Medicine. Professor Lehner joined the Dental Institute (formerly Guy's Hospital Medical and Dental School in 1963). He joined the Oral Medicine Department under Professor Martin Rushton, the first and most distinguished Department of its kind.
Stephen Challacombe, Professor of Oral Medicine, Vice-Dean and Director of External Strategy said of Professor Lehner that he had made ‘enormous contributions to dentistry and oral medicine and the field of Oral Immunology which he established virtually single-handed.’ In his career Professor Lehner has published 250 original peer review papers and fifty books and reviews.
His work has ranged from the early classification of oral and systemic candidiasis, the classification of which is still extant today to mucosal vaccines against HIV. In early years at Guy’s he had particular interest in recurrent aphthous stomatitis and Behcet’s syndrome (and continues to contribute to this field).
Professor Lehner and his colleagues in the new Department of Oral Immunology, the first of its kind anywhere in the world established at Guy's Hospital Dental School in 1970, applied immunological principles to the investigation of candidiasis, herpes simplex, oral cancer, aphthous stomatitis, caries and periodontal diseases amongst other conditions.
From 1972 onwards a stream of innovative papers emanated from this department under Professor Lehner’s direction. These included the immunobiology of oral streptococci and prevention of dental caries by the application orally of recombinant proteins, synthetic peptides and monoclonal IgG or secretory IgA antibodies produced in transgenic plants. This was the first ever use of plants to produce antibodies and the first demonstration of their efficacy in vivo but also the first use of monoclonal IgG antibodies in vivo in both caries and periodontal disease.
From 1990 onwards, his work has been more directed to the immunology of HIV infection and particular immune mechanisms of protective mucosal and systemic immunity against HIV using the SIV model in non human primates. He continues this work at the same intensity today and is the project director of the international consortium of vaccination against HIV /SIV supported by the Gates Foundation.
Professor Lehner has received numerous awards including the CBE in 2003 and the FKC in 2004 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to innovative research. Furthermore he can be justifiably proud of his 30 PhD students, ten of whom are Professors and two are Deans.
Professor Challacombe comments: ‘The award of a honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine in such distinguished company, including Professor Otto Wolff, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Professor George Bentley, Sir Gregory Winter and Mr Steven Mannion is suitable recognition indeed for these outstanding contributions, which have helped propel the Dental Institute to its position of international eminence in research today.’
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Kate Moore, Public Relations Officer (Health Schools)
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