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Q&A with Professor Sir Mark Caulfield

As you will have seen last weekend, we were delighted that our interim Chief Executive and Chief Scientist, Professor Mark Caulfield, was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. We caught up with Sir Mark to hear his thoughts on receiving such an honour.

Congratulations Sir Mark! You must be very pleased to receive this honour – what does it mean to you?

This was not something I expected to happen ever, but I am so delighted that this recognition has come to Genomics England and myself. I do think this is a big testament to the entire team at Genomics England and our achievements. It is also humbling because I now know that a key factor in the award of this Honour was support from our Participant Panel.

How did you celebrate?

I celebrated on Saturday with my wife and my daughters with some champagne and a nice meal. As you are not supposed to tell anyone, the first big celebration was with the Genomics England team and then with the William Harvey Research Institute on Wednesday. I have been inundated by personal emails, cards and letters of congratulations.

This knighthood is recognition of a long and prestigious career, but are there any achievements that really stand out as highlights to you?

I think our team’s incredible dedication to delivery of the 100,000 Genomes Project and a new National Genomic Medicine Service stand out. I thank all of you for all you have done.

Is there anyone – scientist or otherwise – that has particularly inspired you throughout your career?

There are many but to name a few:

  • Professor Mike Floyer who was my Dean at medical school and was the most wonderful doctor who steadfastly supported me in my earlier career as a clinician, and was an inspirational role model who prized clear communication to patients and families.
  • Professor Rod Flower FRS who is a brilliant pharmacologist and has been a tremendous mentor throughout my career at the William Harvey.
  • Professor Sir Nick Wright and Dame Sally Davies who mentored me and gave me the opportunity of leadership.

What might your knighthood mean for Genomics England?

It signals public recognition at the highest level of our achievements as a team.

Do you think this honour will help to increase the awareness of genomics among the wider public?

It was great to be honoured alongside Prof Sir Peter Donnelly. To my mind much more important is the way we communicate genomics as a team and it is clear there is more to do here.

You’ve achieved so much already – what’s your next ambition?

To deliver a clear mission and delivery plan for the aspiration for 5 million genome analyses that commands the support of the Government and other funding.

 

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