Prof. Gerry Thomas
Professor of Molecular Pathology, Imperial College London
Professor Gerry Thomas graduated from Bath University in 1982 with a degree in Pharmacology and completed a PhD in Pathology at the University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff in 1988. In 1992 she left Cardiff to work at the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge, and in 2002, she returned to Wales as a Senior Lecturer, then Professor (in 2006) in Molecular Oncology at Swansea University, just as a grant was awarded from the Welsh Assembly Government to Professor Malcolm Mason and others in Cardiff to establish the Wales Cancer Bank, a national collection of blood samples and tissue from cancer patients operated in Wales. She took responsibility as Principal Scientist for the bank in steering the project through Ethics approval, and developing the scientific protocols required to run the project. In 2007, she took up a position as Professor of Molecular Pathology at Imperial College London, where she established the West London Genome Medicine Centre as part of the UK’s 100,000 genomes project and is Director of the Imperial College Healthcare Tissue Bank. Her initial work focused on animal models of cancer, in particular thyroid cancer. She has carried out research into the health effects of the Chernobyl accident since 1992, and established the Chernobyl Tissue Bank (CTB: www.chernobyltissuebank.com) in 1998. The CTB has provided infrastructural support (both physical and ethical) in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia for thyroid cancer diagnosis and research into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the increase in thyroid cancer seen after the Chernobyl accident. The project provides a platform for a systems biology approach to exploring these mechanisms and supports tissue collection for international epidemiology studies. She has published extensively on the molecular pathology of thyroid cancer, and is an author of a number of reviews of the health effects of radiation exposure following nuclear accidents. Following the Fukushima accident, she was asked to explain the health risks of radiation on both broadcast and written media in the UK and internationally. She has been involved in a number of expert groups for the IAEA, UNSCEAR and IARC, the most recent of these focusing on thyroid monitoring after nuclear accidents.
Professor Thomas is committed to developing infrastructures for molecular pathology research and diagnosis, both for use by her own research group but also by others. She strongly believes that public involvement and information is a key part of academic research, and is actively involved in the public communication of research, particularly with respect to radiation protection and biobanking.