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UCL creates new Pro-Provost positions to expand its global horizon

14 September 2005

UCL has created two new Pro-Provost positions – one for North America and one for South Asia and the Middle East - to maintain and develop the university's interests in these regions. Pro-Provost for North America, Professor Janette Atkinson , and Pro-Provost for South Asia and the Middle East, Professor Vince Emery, will take up post this month.

Pro-Provosts represent the university's interests across distinct geographical regions by building upon existing strengths and maximising the profile of UCL as a provider of a world class research-led education. With the creation of the two new positions, UCL will have five Pro-Provosts for international regions who work with the President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, to develop and coordinate the university's strategy for expanding academic cooperation and research links across the world.

The Pro-Provosts report to Vice-Provost (Academic and International), Professor Michael Worton, who is responsible for implementing UCL's International Strategy. The Pro-Provosts also liaise closely with the UCL International Office, the UCL Development & Corporate Communications Office and fellow academics within UCL.

Janette Atkinson is professor of psychology in the UCL Department of Psychology and a member of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience . As an active member of the international community of scientists in vision, cognitive neuroscience and child psychology, Professor Atkinson works closely with universities in USA and Canada .

Professor Atkinson's work as Pro-Provost for North America ( USA , Mexico and Canada ) will run alongside her work as Director of the Visual Development Unit at UCL and the University of Oxford, which is supported by the Medical Research Council. The focus of the unit is research on normal and abnormal visual brain development - from severe problems of children whose brain damage may make them blind, to common problems such as strabismus or cross eyes.

The group has been international leaders in infant vision research for many years; they use and invent new behavioural, brain-potential and imaging methods and have discovered when babies develop the brain systems needed for different aspects of vision such as judgements of motion, depth in stereoscopic vision and visual attention, with the possibility that problems in these areas are related to ADHD and dyslexia in school. Using their own invention - the videorefractor VPRI - a unique paediatric child-friendly instrument for detecting long and short sightedness in infants, they have run the first vision screening programmes for total infant populations. The group currently study the unique visual and spatial problems in babies born very prematurely and in the genetic disorder Williams Syndrome.

Commenting on her appointment, Professor Atkinson says: “Since my post-doctoral work at Johns Hopkins University , I have had many links with American universities and research institutes where I have taught and collaborated in research working with leading scientists including Francis Crick, Bela Julesz, Ursula Bellugi and Richard Held.

“UCL already has more students from the USA than from any other overseas country. I believe that we can do even more to let North Americans know what UCL has to offer both in excellent research and teaching opportunities across a wide range of disciplines, and join our global community.”

Vince Emery is professor of virology at the Royal Free and University College Medical School of UCL. His research interests include the application of molecular biological approaches to understand viral pathogenesis and more recently the application of state-of-the-art immunological techniques to complement the virologic investigations. Using a combination of real time PCR approaches, and mathematical biology, he was the first to document the rapid replication dynamics of cytomegalovirus in the immuno-compromised patient and has been investigating whether functional deficiencies in immune responses correlate with an increased risk of high level replication and subsequent disease.

Professor Emery of UCL's Medical School says: “I aim to enhance the profile of UCL in India and the Middle East so that UCL becomes the preferred university of choice for students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels - and a preferred partner for research collaborations.

“Working with a number of individuals and organisations I aim to facilitate opportunities for students to study at UCL, and hence benefit from its global vision – and use this global citizenship to enhance education, business, health and society within their country of origin.”

For further information, please contact:

Judith H Moore, UCL Media Relations Manager, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 7678 (int: 07678), Mobile : +44 (0)77333 075 96, Email: judith.moore@ucl.ac.uk

Notes to editors

A list of UCL's Pro-Provosts can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/provost/pro-provosts/