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Professor Arunthathi Mahendran appointed as the Institute Director for IHSE

As the new Institute Director for the Institute of Health Sciences Education (IHSE) at Queen Mary, Arunthathi brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge.

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She completed her specialist surgical training at the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead and Columbia University in New York.  Her research, grounded in the Philosophy of Education, examines practices of “thinking, seeing and doing” to better comprehend how students and trainees learn and develop in complex clinical environments. This research has informed the design and delivery of medical and surgical education and she has frequently advised educational institutions on the subject in the UK, Europe and beyond. Most recently, she was the recipient of the President and Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Education in 2021.

Arunthathi is a proud East Ender, raised by Sri Lankan immigrants with strong ties to the local community. She is the first woman and person of colour to be appointed IHSE Director, as Queen Mary looks to build on its cultural diversity and create a truly inclusive environment.

Professor Arunthathi Mahendran said: “I grew up in an incredibly diverse community where everyone around me was either striving to better themselves, thereby improving their life circumstances, or looking for opportunities to pursue their talents or what really mattered to them, what they were passionate about. 

“I have experienced and witnessed first-hand just how Access and Inclusivity -- or their absence -- can either enhance or diminish a person’s life choices and opportunities to thrive and flourish. For all these reasons and more, I am committed to Queen Mary’s philosophy of learning.

“I’m delighted and enormously privileged to lead IHSE and its outstanding student and staff community into a new era of collaboration and innovation.”

Commenting on the appointment, Professor Chloe Orkin, Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion said: “This is a very important milestone in our Faculty's journey toward equity. Women in general and women from minoritised backgrounds in particular are very poorly represented in academic leadership across the UK.

"The fact that a leader of Professor Mahendran’s calibre has emerged from within our Faculty demonstrates that we are creating the conditions in which a woman of colour has felt able to apply for and succeed in achieving a leadership position. I wish Arundi every success and I know that she will have the full support of the senior leadership team.”

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