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16 April 2020

Faculty researchers awarded prestigious Fellowships

Two researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine have been announced among the latest recipients of prestigious King’s Fellowships.

Faculty researchers awarded prestigious King's Fellowships

Dr Cynthia Yu-Wai-Man and Dr Steven Williams are Clinician Scientists who were awarded MRC and BHF Fellowships respectively on 5 March 2020.

Dr Cynthia Yu-Wai-Man is an MRC Clinician Scientist within the School of Life Courses Sciences, and a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. She will receive £1.46 million over 4 years for her research. Key to Dr Yu-Wai-Man receiving this award was the King’s Prize Fellowship, which supported Dr Yu-Wai-Man in setting up her independent lab and in consolidating her research programme.

Dr Yu-Wai-Man’s research focuses on improving the surgical outcomes of patients with glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, by determining why a large subgroup of patients develop severe scarring and irreversible loss of vision after glaucoma surgery.

The research will allow us to detect glaucoma patients who have a higher risk to progress rapidly and who need additional treatment to prevent surgical failure. Importantly, it will also lead to new avenues for drug discovery and targeted therapeutics, with the future application of precision medicine.

The MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship will allow me to conduct a large prospective longitudinal study of glaucoma patients to dissect the molecular mechanisms leading to progressive scarring and to identify key biomarkers for clinical risk stratification. I will also set up a unique Glaucoma BioResource of RNA and DNA tissue samples from glaucoma patients, linked to detailed longitudinal phenotyping, which will open unprecedented avenues for translational research and further collaborations. My future aim is to translate new targeted therapeutics to clinical trials to improve the surgical outcomes of glaucoma patients and to decrease preventable blindness from glaucoma.

Cynthia Yu-Wai-Man, MRC Clinician Scientist, School of Life Course Sciences

Dr Steven Williams is a Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Specialty Registrar in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, due to end his clinical training in cardiac electrophysiology and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in October.

During his Clinical Lectureship, Dr Williams became interested in similarities and differences in the electrical activity in the atria of patients with atrial fibrillation. In particular he developed these ideas through three papers which led onto his BHF Fellowship. These three papers combined to highlight that there are important electrical differences between atrial fibrillation patients which are currently not being taken into account in the decision making for clinical treatments.

The King’s Prize Fellowship award is allowing Dr Williams to take these ideas further in order to hopefully capture the real-life complexities of atrial fibrillation. The main aim within this fellowship is to reclassify atrial fibrillation not as one condition, but as multiple conditions based on the mechanisms of the arrhythmia.

The BHF Fellowship will provide the time and resource for me to conduct a large computational modelling study of atrial fibrillation using state of the art techniques and based on a previously unavailable resolution of clinical data. I was absolutely delighted to receive this award and am extremely grateful to the BHF for deciding to support this next phase of my research career.

Dr Steven Williams, Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Specialty Registrar, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences

In this story

Cynthia Yu-Wai-Man

Senior Clinical Lecturer and MRC Clinician Scientist