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Southampton professors named as senior leaders in UK research


Four Southampton professors have been recognised as outstanding research leaders by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).


Professors Diana Baralle, Saul Faust, Nick Francis, and Robert Read have each been appointed as NIHR Senior Investigators.


This prestigious honour underlines their status among the most prominent and prestigious researchers in the UK.


The Southampton awardees are all driving new research at the University of Southampton. They are also part of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).


New appointments


The NIHR has appointed 43 new Senior Investigators in 2024. This brings the College of NIHR Senior Investigators to 200 active members. 


Senior Investigators are leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR research community.  


Diana Baralle is a Professor of Genomic Medicine and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Medicine. She is also part of the Respiratory and Allergy theme at the NIHR Southampton BRC.


Prof Baralle leads a research group that investigates the role of RNA and splicing in genetic disease, new methods for genetic diagnostic testing, and the causes of rare disease syndromes. She said:


“I am absolutely delighted to be named NIHR senior investigator following on from being an NIHR research professor. I am pleased to continue being a champion and ambassador for the NIHR.”


Nick Francis is a Professor of Primary Care Research. He is also part of the Microbiology, Immunology and Infection theme at the NIHR Southampton BRC. His research focuses on finding new solutions to reduce infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance. Prof Francis said:


“The NIHR is the main funder of research to improve health and care in the UK. I have been lucky enough to have received NIHR funding for my programme of research on improving the management of infections in primary care.


“I am therefore absolutely delighted to have been recognised as an NIHR Senior Investigator. I look forward to continuing to support and work with this important national institution.”


Renewed awards


Professor Rob Read is Chair of Infectious Diseases and leads the Microbiology, Immunology and Infection theme at the NIHR Southampton BRC, alongside Professor Saul Faust. They have been reappointed as NIHR Senior Investigators.


Professor Read was first appointed in 2018 and said: “I am really pleased and honoured that my NIHR Senior Investigator Award has been renewed for a further three years. This has been made possible by the excellent and collaborative environment in which we all work.”


Professor Faust received Senior Investigator recognition in 2020. He said: “I’m incredibly honoured to receive this prestigious award for a second term. It is important recognition for the amazing work going on in Southampton to improve people's health."


The researchers join other NIHR Senior Investigators based in Southampton. They include professors Cathy Bowen, Jackie Bridges, Peter Griffiths, Mike Grocott, Andrew Lotery, Maria Stokes and Tom Wilkinson.


Acting as ambassadors


Successful applicants receive a discretionary award of £20,000 a year to fund activities that support their research.


Funding is awarded for four-year appointments on the recommendation of an independent committee.


Senior Investigators act as an ambassador for the NIHR in the wider system. As senior members of the NIHR Academy, they help develop the next generation of outstanding health and social care researchers.

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