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Fellow recognised for advancing transplant research


The pioneering research of a Fellow of St Catharine’s College has been recognised by the UK’s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

Michael Nicholson (2018) is Professor of Transplant Surgery at the University of Cambridge and Director of the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit. In February 2020, the NIHR awarded the unit over £1 million of funding and appointed Professor Nicholson as an NIHR Senior Investigator.

“I feel honoured that the hard work and achievements of my team have been recognised by the NIHR. Improving the options available to transplant teams and their patients will take years of careful research to identify and hone new approaches. I am grateful to have the support of both the NIHR and my colleagues at St Catharine’s during this important journey,” comments Professor Nicholson.

Launched in 2015, the unit is a strategic partnership between the University of Cambridge and Newcastle University, and their associated transplant units, and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). The new funding of £1.15 million supports the unit’s aim of developing and evaluating novel approaches and technologies that will increase the availability of suitable donor organs for transplantation, while improving graft survival. Specifically, it will ensure the unit can continue to advance its ground-breaking, pre-clinical research assessing the therapies that can be used alongside normothermic machine perfusion to repair kidneys before transplantation.

With over 50 published papers and awards from the European Society for Organ Transplantation and British Transplantation Society, the unit benefited from initial funding of £3.8 million from the NIHR and a further £15 million from external grants. A St Catharine’s alumnus, Mr Dominic Summers (2000, Natural Sciences), is also involved in the unit’s innovative work as an NIHR/NHBST Clinical Lecturer in the University’s Department of Surgery.

Professor Nicholson’s new appointment as an NIHR Senior Investigator recognises that he is among the most prominent and prestigious researchers funded by the NIHR and the most outstanding leaders of patient and people-based research within the NIHR research community and beyond. Only 28 new Senior Investigators were selected in the 2020 round of awards, based on an open, nationwide competition and the advice of independent experts.

As a result, Professor Nicholson receives a discretionary award of £20,000 per year to fund activities that support his research, including opportunities to connect with other experts around the world. He also becomes a senior member of the NIHR Academy and will guide research capacity development and enhance the career paths of UK researchers. This extends the College’s links with the NIHR as one of our other Fellows, Professor Nicholas Morrell (2013), is an NIHR Emeritus Senior Investigator.

Find out more about our Fellows.