Professor Bryn Bridges, Director of the Cell Mutation Unit at the University of Sussex, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
The honour acknowledges Professor Bridges' work on the cellular effects of radiation and the possible implications for human health. Professor Bridges, who lives in Ringmer, says the honour was 'unexpected' and that it 'is a reflection on the work done in this unit over the last thirty years'.
The Cell Mutation Unit, which is funded by the Medical Research Council, was set up in 1970 to study DNA damage and repair. Professor Bridges - who retires in September this year - has been at the forefront of its work since the very beginning. As well as being Director of the unit he also heads the Bacterial Mutagenesis Laboratory, investigating such issues as antibiotic resistance and the cellular processes involved in the development of cancer. Although damage to DNA can be repaired by cells, it can sometimes lead to permanent changes - known as mutations - that can be inherited. Such mutations may cause cancer or other disorders.
Since 1993 Professor Bridges has also acted as chairman of the government's Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE). The committee has investigated important issues of public health - for example high incidences of childhood leukaemia - around nuclear sites such as Sellafield, Dounreay and Aldermaston. Professor Bridges intends to continue in this role after his retirement. 'All of our recommendations have been accepted by the government. I think we do a very important job,' he says of COMARE.
Staff from the Cell Mutation Unit are due to move into a new Genome Stability Centre at the University's Falmer campus, where they will be joined by other academics from different disciplines. 'To be a centre of excellence in modern biology you need a multi-disciplinary approach, hence the new centre,' says Professor Bridges. Construction work has just begun on the Genome Stability Centre, which has received millions of pounds in funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
Other Sussex figures receiving honours were Dr Richard Jolly, Emeritus Fellow at the Institute for Development Studies who has been made a Knight of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his
contribution to international development. Jim Brathwaite, lay member of Council, received the CBE.
Notes for editors
For further information please contact Jacqui Bealing or Alison Field, Press Office, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, email J.A.Bealing@sussex.ac.uk or A.Field@sussex.ac.uk.