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Queen Mary honours leading vaccine scientist with Doctor of Science award

Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval, Director General (Rector) of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), one of Mexico’s largest and most prestigious universities, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree from Queen Mary University of London.

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The award is in recognition of Professor Reyes-Sandoval’s outstanding work to develop new vaccines. He is a chemical bacteriologist and parasitologist, with a PhD in molecular medicine, and his research has led to the development of vaccines for Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue – all mosquito-borne diseases endemic in Mexico.   

Professor Reyes-Sandoval is also conducting research supported by the Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council to develop vaccines against two parasites: Plasmodium vivax, one of the two most prevalent malaria parasites; and Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was built on twenty years or so of research and development into new vaccine technology, including Professor Reyes-Sandoval’s work on the chimpanzee adenoviral vaccine vector – the active substance in the Oxford/AZ vaccine. 

Professor Colin Bailey, Principal and President of Queen Mary, said: “We are delighted to award this honorary DSc to Dr Reyes Sandoval. His research is truly innovative and ground-breaking, developing vaccines that change our world for the better.

“He leads a team committed to this work, helping us to fight Covid-19, and developing vaccines for diseases, particularly those transmitted by insects such as mosquitoes, making a difference to millions of people in Latin America and worldwide. This DSc is awarded in recognition of his achievements, and his commitment and drive to tackling these public health challenges, which can affect the more vulnerable people in society the most.”

The University awards Honorary Degrees to inspirational people, with links to Queen Mary, who have attained the very highest standards of scholarship or demonstrated outstanding achievement or distinction.

Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval said: “It is a great honour to receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Sciences from Queen Mary University of London - a world class University that has produced notable alumni and leaders in their respective fields, including nine Nobel laureates.

“This Honorary Degree highlights the recognition by Queen Mary of multicultural activities and reflects the openness and inclusiveness of British society to the participation of scientists from all over the world in fundamental activities such as science and education. I thank Queen Mary for this recognition, personally and on behalf of my family and the institution that I now represent, the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico.”

Professor Reyes-Sandoval graduated from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Bacteriology and Parasitology, before going on to study an MSc in Cytopathology and a PhD in in Molecular Biomedicine at the same institution, followed by post-doctoral studies at the Wistar Institute in the University of Pennsylvania.

Before becoming the Principal of the IPN, Professor Reyes-Sandoval led a scientific group at the University of Oxford working on the development of vaccines from design to clinical trials in the UK and in Mexico. He was an Associate Professor at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in the University of Oxford, a Wellcome Trust Fellow and a Jenner Institute Investigator. He is a Fellow of Mexico’s National System of Investigators. 

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