UCL News


Spotlight on Sharon Peacock

19 November 2015

This week the spotlight is on Sharon Peacock, Director of the Bloomsbury Research Institute.

Spotlight on Sharon Peacock

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am Founding Director of the Bloomsbury Research Institute - a joint venture between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and UCL.

This is currently a virtual institute based on collaborative research, training and seminars. Completion of a new £54m building in Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury, London will lead to the co-location of tenured scientists, fellows funded by external funding agencies, an administrative team and core technical staff from the two founding partners.

The institute will become a leading centre of excellence for translational research into infectious diseases. It will host one of the highest concentrations of infectious disease researchers in Europe, and will form a critical part of an expanding biosciences hub in London, which includes the Francis Crick Institute and a £3 billion per year healthcare delivery network.

Pooling joint capabilities within an environment that fosters openness, collaboration and scientific risk-taking will lead to creativity and innovation. The multidisciplinary teams that emerge from this, combined with our exceptional existing global networks, place us in a unique position to seize opportunities and accelerate progress.

The founding partners are world-renowned for teaching, training and capacity building. The institute will build on this reputation, and act as a magnet for early and mid-career scientists to join us and both learn and contribute innovative experimental and applied research. The institute will also show a commitment to the future generation of scientists through a public engagement programme that inspires young people to choose a STEM discipline at university and beyond.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I started on 1 September 2015. Before that, I was Professor of Clinical Microbiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Seeing young people who have worked with me go on to become successful, independent scientists.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

My top priority is the success of the Bloomsbury Research Institute.

What is your favourite novel?

Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

My family are quick to remind me that I can never remember any jokes.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

It surprised me to find that I was unable to identify one 'must meet' person. The people I would really like to meet (again) are my grandparents. It's a wish that can't come true since they are all gone now, but I would like to know much more about their life stories than I actually know.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Perhaps I shouldn't admit to this, but I didn't take advice when I was younger!

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I left school at 16. The winding path that finally led me to university at the age of 23 taught me a lot.

What is your favourite place?

A beach resort in Thailand. I started going there with my family in 2005 when we were living in Bangkok, and we have kept going back over the past 10 years. We have built up years of memories in an unchanging backdrop during that time.