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Dr Rob Howes, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, appointed as honorary WMS Professor


Dr Rob Howes, the Director of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory, has been appointed as an honorary Professor at Warwick Medical School.

The new state-of-the-art laboratory in Royal Leamington Spa is at the heart of the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) plans for managing Covid19. The laboratory is processing hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 samples every day to help stop the spread of the virus. As part of the UKHSA NHS Test and Trace network, the facility is the biggest of its kind in Europe and uses cutting-edge technology to process even more tests. In the coming months it will adopt the pioneering new genotype assay testing to quickly identify variants of concern and new mutations; this will help the UK’s scientists, public health specialists and epidemiologists take action to suppress outbreaks.

Professor Sudhesh Kumar, OBE, Dean of the Medical School, said: “Our partnership with the UKHSA’s Rosalind Franklin Laboratory is very exciting, and Professor Howes will help develop and consolidate our research and teaching in this area, focusing on very large-scale testing, sequencing and analysis.

Professor Andrew McAinsh, Head of the Biomedical Research Division at WMS, said: “This relationship sits at the heart of our commitment to leading and driving excellent scientific endeavour, delivering new knowledge and innovation to improve care for patients.

Professor Simon Brake, WMS Chief Innovation and Engagement officer, and the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory’s Director of Strategy and Partnerships, said: “The laboratory’s purpose of delivering high quality patient care through excellent science can only be enhanced by Professor Howes and the work that he, laboratory and WMS colleagues will lead through our developing relationship.

Professor Howes commented: “I’m honoured to be appointed to this role, and the work that I lead at the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory to serve patients and the public through excellent science can only be made better through our current and future work together with WMS to focus on the training of scientists, and the development and delivery of high-quality teaching and research."

The Rosalind Franklin Laboratory aims to create and upskill scientists with a programme of training and, with close links to universities, inspire a new generation to choose a career in STEM. It has created employment for local people, with 600 new staff already, while around 60% of staff hired so far are from within 30 miles of the site. In addition, 11 undergraduates from the University of Warwick and Birmingham City University and four PhD students from the University of Warwick have begun placements, gaining testing experience and developing their skills in a real-world setting.