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Professor Sir Stephen Holgate is a national authority on the links between allergy and asthmas

Knighthood for Exeter Honorary Professor allergy and asthma expert

A national authority on the links between allergy and asthmas has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Professor Sir Stephen Holgate holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Exeter Medical School. He is MRC Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton.

Stephen has devoted his career to focusing on the interface between basic sciences and clinical application to improve our understanding and treatment of allergy and asthma and remains one of the world’s foremost spokespeople on the dangerous impact of air pollution. Recognised as one of the top specialists in his field, both nationally and internationally, Stephen many leading appointments, including Government advisor, underline his high level of expertise and experience. He is a long time member of the advisory board of the University of Exeter’s European Centre for the Environment and Human Health.

“I’m really surprised to receive this honour,” said Stephen. “Looking back on a lifetime of research, translating biological science into human disease and then improving human health as a consequence has been a rewarding journey in its own right and I’m truly most fortunate to have experienced this.

“This is a celebration of 45 years of hundreds of people’s work that have contributed to this journey,” he continued. “So, the fact that this honour has come to me, makes me feel privileged and honoured but it really is what everyone else has done to help create this incredible recognition.”

Stephen studied medicine at Charing Cross and after training in respiratory medicine he undertook a two-year Fellowship at Harvard Medical School. On returning to Southampton in 1980, he pursued a research career on the mechanisms of asthma and allergy involving a wide range of different approaches.

He has a particular interest in the role of air pollutants, viruses and allergens in driving airway inflammation and remodelling. His work has resulted in over 1,000 peer-reviewed publications (H index 170). He was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, was founder chair of the DH Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, President of the British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and British Thoracic Society and, until 2011, chaired the MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board.

Most recently, Stephen was chair of Main Panel A of the Research Excellence Framework, 2014. Currently, he chairs the NC3Rs Board, the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (Defra) and the European Respiratory Society Science Council. He also chaired the MRC Translational Group responsible for pulling through discovery science into patient benefit and was a member of the MRC Strategy Board and the NERC Science Board and currently is a member of its Council.

Professor Lora Fleming, Director of the University of Exeter’s European Centre of Environment and Human Health, said: “We are absolutely delighted to celebrate this incredibly well-deserved recognition of Stephen’s outstanding contribution to science, and to improving health. He is absolutely a global leader in his field, and it’s a pleasure to work alongside him.”

Date: 14 October 2020

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