Spotlight on... Professor David Lomas
9 July 2020
This week we meet David Lomas – Vice Provost (Health), Head of the School of Life and Medical Sciences and Head of UCL Medical School – who chats to us about working to make a difference to health through research.
What is your role and what does it involve?
Vice Provost (Health), Head of the School of Life and Medical Sciences and Head of UCL Medical School. I am also Director of the UCL Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre. It involves working with lots of brilliant people to try and make a difference to health through research (from insects to populations), education and enterprise. I still run a research programme on protein misfolding and enjoy my clinical service at UCH and the Royal Free and bedside teaching at UCH.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
Seven years at UCL – five as Vice Provost (Health) and two as the Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences. Prior to that I was Professor of Respiratory Biology at Cambridge for 14 years.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
Our 30-year research programme that has elucidated the mechanism of a protein folding disorder, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency and a group of associated conditions that we termed the serpinopathies. My aim is to develop a cure – we have a small molecule that is almost ready for human trials.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?
A few at the moment: helping to reopen campus for research and teaching, helping to reorganise the care provision in our partner hospitals (UCLH, The Royal Free Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Moorfields Eye Hospital, the Whittington Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore) and facilitating the use of the UCL-Ventura breathing device for international use to treat people with COVID-19.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
The most played album on my Spotify account is Verdi’s Rigoletto, film Where Eagles Dare and book the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin series
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I am not very good at remembering jokes but this is one that always makes me laugh when it is told by my youngest son. I start laughing before the punchline – even the thought of it makes me smile. The children think I am a bit mad. It is from Scooby-Doo.
'Okay Fred, Shaggy and Daphne, can you name an animal that lives in Africa and has a large horn on its face?'
'I know you know the answer, Scooby, but I didn't ask you!'
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
My father – he died when I was eight.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Spend more time with the children and realise that they will turn out fine even if you don’t believe it at the time.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I have spent the last two years learning Italian as it is a wonderful country with lovely people, food and music. However I am still not very good at it.
What is your favourite place?
The Old Dungeon Ghyll – an old walkers pub in the Langdale Valley in the Lake District.