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Professor Tom Wilkinson named a senior leader in UK respiratory research

Updated: Mar 10, 2023



Professor Tom Wilkinson, Respiratory and Allergy theme lead at our NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, has been recognised as one of the most prominent health researchers in the UK.


Prof Wilkinson has been appointed an NIHR Senior Investigator. The prestigious honour from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) underlines his status as an outstanding research leader.


He is one of only around 200 members of the NIHR College of Senior Investigators. The College includes six other senior researchers from Southampton.


Prof Wilkinson is Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Associate Dean for Enterprise at the University of Southampton, and Honorary Consultant at University Hospital Southampton.


Leading respiratory and allergy research


Respiratory diseases affect 10 million people in the UK, kill 1-in-5, and cost the NHS more than eight billion pounds a year. The UK prevalence of allergy is high and rising; a quarter of our population now has a respiratory allergy.


Prof Wilkinson leads our NIHR Southampton BRC’s Respiratory and Allergy theme. Our researchers in this theme aim to improve clinical outcomes from allergies and respiratory diseases. They take discoveries from the lab, and use them to create new diagnostic tests, preventative therapies and treatments to increase the resilience of patients, communities and the NHS.


His work focusses on developing new approaches for preventing COPD exacerbations and reducing the burden of respiratory infections. He has authored more than 150 papers and 500 abstracts presented at national and international meetings. He is chief investigator and clinical director for the National UNIVERSAL Respiratory Viral Research Programme, and clinical lead for the Royal College of Physicians national COPD audit programme.


Prof Wilkinson said: “I’m incredibly honoured to be recognised in this way by the NIHR. For me this award recognises the amazing work going on in Southampton to improve respiratory health, and the advances we are making for our patients.


“It’s so important that respiratory health is recognised by the NIHR as a key priority, and I will work with other Senior Investigators to ensure that is the case.”


Double success


Prof Wilkinson is one of two Southampton researchers selected in the 16th NIHR Senior Investigators Competition, along with Professor Jackie Bridges at the University of Southampton. Their terms will last until March 2027.


Senior Investigators are among the most prominent and prestigious researchers funded by the NIHR. They are outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR research community. Senior Investigators receive an award of £20,000 per year of appointment to fund activities that support their research. NIHR Senior Investigator responsibility brings an enhanced role in providing thought leadership and support in developing the UK’s research capacity.


There are 11 current and emeritus NIHR Senior Investigators based in Southampton. They include professors Mike Grocott, Saul Faust, Keith Godfrey, Paul Little, Rob Read and Maria Stokes from NIHR Southampton BRC.

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