Professor wins prestigious award

A professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University was honoured with the Living North’s Contribution to the North East Award 2000-15 last week.

Professor Sir John Burn was congratulated on his services to medical research having spearheaded an international programme proving aspirin can prevent cancer in people with a high genetic risk.

Not only this, he also acts as the lead English investigator in an international steering committee currently working on a project proving taking folic acid during pregnancy could prevent spina bifida. His work in the subject has earned him the accolade Honorary Consultant Clinical Geneticist at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“It was a surprise to win this award and I am delighted to receive it. I’m proud to be from the North East – I have always lived and worked in the region so to be acknowledged for the contribution I have made to the area is an honour”, said Sir John after receiving his award. He was also keen to congratulate those who had supported him adding, “I work with a great team at Newcastle University, Centre for Life, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and biotech firm QuantuMDx, of which I am chair. This award is in recognition of all the teams’ hard work and commitment to medical research over the years.”

The Living North Awards took place at St Nicholas Cathedral in the city centre and the inaugural awards aim to celebrate the North East and its people. Whilst the cathedral remains an important place of worship the building was enthusiastic to appear at the centre of the community, acknowledging its people’s achievements. Sir John, however, is not just a pioneer in the North East but a world-leader in genetics and well-known internationally for his ground breaking work.

The leading academic had to hold off stiff competition from other figures in the area including sporting legends like Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s record goalscorer, and Steve Cram, silver medallist in the 1500m at the 1984 Olympics. His competition also extended beyond sport to the Duchess of Northumberland and screenwriter Lee Hall, most famous for his film Billy Elliot.

The awards were hosted by North East comedian Jason Cook and more than 500 guests were in attendance to witness Sir John’s triumph. Cook was also assisted in his entertainment by the Dishforth Military Wives and The Decibelles, making the night a highlight of many calendars.

“The most competitive and significant award of the night was won by Professor Sir John Burn. A huge cheer followed the announcement, not just because of the strength of the other names on the shortlist but also because this was an example of someone performing on a global stage from the heart of the North East in a way that really matters to the future of us all.” Said Julian West, Living North publisher speaking after the awards.

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