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Professor Sir John Irving Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford and former Head of Department of the Nuffield Department of Medicine, has been appointed a Companion of Honour in the King’s Birthday Honours list. He was knighted in 2015 for services to medicine, medical research and the life science industry.

The citation for Prof Sir John Bell highlights his transformation of the University’s research and innovation ecosystem enabling billions of pounds of investment in research programmes, equipment, major building projects and land purchases. The development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would not have been possible without his vision to build vaccine research in Oxford over the last 30 years.

During the pandemic, he dedicated countless hours assisting the UK with strategies for developing and rolling out vaccines, understanding emerging immunology and developing national testing programmes.

Professor Sir Bell, said: ‘I was delighted to hear that I had been recognised with a King’s Honour for the work I have done in medicine and life sciences.  It reflects the efforts of the very large number of people across the sector who have made this one of the UK’s strongest disciplines.’

Prof Sir Bell is admired across the world as an energetic force operating across academia, philanthropists, industry and Whitehall, working with great dedication to communicate key scientific ideas, translate them to practical applications and identify key enablers to implementation.

After undertaking his medical training in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and later at Stanford University, he returned to the UK in 1987. In 1992, he became the Nuffield Professor of Clinical Medicine, and in 1994, was one of the founders of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics.  

He has since led the expansion of biomedical research activities within NDM, particularly in the field of genetics and genomics. His research programmes have contributed to a clearer understanding of type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and also of the molecular interactions associated with immune activation.