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Science and Medical Advisor Biographies

Our expert scientific and medical advisors include scientists, clinicians, researchers and a genetic counsellor who are all specialists in fields relating to Jewish genetic disorders.

Below is a short biography of each of our advisors.

Professor Patricia Jacobs, DSc, FRS, OBE.

Professor of Human Genetics, University of Southampton

Professor Jacobs is a world-renown geneticist who has led a wide range of groundbreaking research projects on human chromosome abnormalities. She has authored over 250 articles which investigate the effect of chromosome abnormalities both in individuals with congenital abnormalities and in a wide variety of populations. In 1959 she was the first scientist to describe an abnormal chromosome in a human, namely an extra X chromosome, found in males with Klinefelter Syndrome. This was the first evidence that the Y chromosome was ‘male determining’ in mammals.

After spending 15 years with the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, she joined the University of Hawaii where for 13 years she continued her research on population cytogenetics with emphasis on spontaneous abortions and on the Fragile X syndrome in mental retardation. Subsequently she became Professor and Chief of the Division of Human Genetics in Cornell University Medical College for two years, before returning to Britain in 1988 to take up the positions of Director of the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory, and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Southampton Medical School. In 2001 she retired from the Directorship of the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory and concentrated on research which she now continues on a part time basis.

Professor Jacobs has received many international awards including the William Allan Memorial Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the European Society of Human Genetics Mauro Baschirotto Award, and the prestigious March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Foreign Associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences, a founder member of the American Board of Medical Genetics, and a founder member of the Academy of Medical Sciences. In 1999 she was awarded an OBE for services to genetics.

Dr Angela Barnicoat, MD DRCOG FRCP

Professor Nick Lench

Co-founder and COO of Congenica Ltd, a genomic medicine company based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge

Nick is a co-founder and chief operating officer of Congenica Limited, a genomic medicine company based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge. Nick has worked in academia, industry and the UK national health service and has extensive experience in clinical diagnostics having been Director of the Genetics Service at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London.

Nick was awarded a personal chair in Medical Genetics at Cardiff University; he is currently an honorary reader in Genetics and Genomic Medicine at the UCL Institute of Child Health, London and a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. Nick has valuable business experience in start-up/SME commercial organisations as founding CEO, London Genetics Ltd and Genetics Director, Oxagen Ltd. Nick is an author of over 120 peer-reviewed publications and a named inventor on three patents.

Professor Rosalind Eeles, FMedSci MA FCRP FRCR PhD

Professor of Oncogenetics and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology and Cancer Genetics, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Professor Ros Eeles is a leading expert in the field of cancer genetics and currently runs a research programme at The ICR on genetic predisposition to prostate cancer and management of individuals with BRCA mutations. She leads several large international consortia conducting research in genetic predisposition to prostate cancer and has authored over 280 papers.

Having studied at the University of Cambridge and St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, she went on to train in Clinical Oncology at The Royal Marsden.  Her research training was in genetic predisposition to cancer at The ICR and The University of Utah, USA, and she has a PhD in Cancer Genetics from the University of London.

Professor Eeles is accredited in Clinical Oncology with a sub-specialism in cancer genetics – cancer risk assessment, genetic testing for predisposition to cancer, targeted screening advice based on cancer genetic risk assessment and the application of cancer genetics to cancer care.

She has sat on several genetics advisory committees, including the Department of Health Genetics Advisory Committee, has given evidence to the House of Lords’ Select Committee on genomic medicine and edited a special edition of the Familial Cancer journal on delivery of cancer genetics services.
Professor Eeles is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists (Clinical Oncology Faculty), and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK.

Dr Ian Ellis, FRCP, BSc

Consultant Clinical Geneticist, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Genetics, University of Liverpool

Dr Ian Ellis has been Senior Lecturer and Consultant Clinical Geneticist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool since 1994 and was Clinical Director for Medical Genetics services from 2000 to 2005.

He was Research and then Senior Registrar in Clinical Genetics at Guy’s Hospital, from 1987 to 1993.  During that time he established the national screening program to identify Tay-Sachs carriers in the Jewish community.  In recognition of this he received the Dora Schuster prize from the London Jewish Medical Society in 1989 and the Pentland Award from Jewish Care in 1991.

His current research is into inherited pancreatic diseases, familial cancer and the psychosocial impact of genetic carrier screening.  Dr Ellis has written and spoken on the ethical and legal implications of DNA testing and has organised conferences on Genetics and Law.  He is a past-President of the Liverpool Jewish Medical Society and a current adviser on genetics to CHAI, Jewish Cancer Support.

Sara Levene, RGC, MSc, BSc

Consultant Genetic Counsellor & PGD Lead, The Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health

Sara is a highly experienced genetic counsellor who is part of the Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnsosis team at Guy’s Hospital as well as overseeing their Tay Sachs screening service.

She has a specialist interest in Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs) and has been involved in a number of related initiatives. These include a ‘Visiting Fellowship’ to visit Jewish Genetic screening programmes in the USA, Canada, Australia and Israel, and co-authoring the PHG Foundation review on NHS Tay-Sachs screening for the Ashkenazi Jewish community. Sara was integral in establishing a pilot service for a panel of JGDs offered by Guy’s Hospital.

She has previously managed the long-term follow-up of families with chromosomal re- arrangements, and now manages the long-term follow-up of Fragile X families. Sara also has many years of experience counselling families with a family history of cancer.

Dr Simon Ramsden, PhD, FRCPath

Consultant Clinical Scientist, Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine

Simon Ramsden completed his PhD at the University of Birmingham in 1991 developing recombinant DNA techniques and applying them to plant genetic models. Since that time he has worked in the North West Regional Molecular Genetics Laboratory as a clinical scientist.

He has experience of running clinical laboratory services in a wide variety of areas, however his particular interests are in Angelman syndrome, the molecular diagnosis of retinal degeneration and developing quality standards in molecular genetics.

He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2009.