LSHTM Honorary Fellowships go to outstanding research and university leaders

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has awarded its most prestigious honour to three recipients for their exceptional service or distinction
LSHTM Honorary Fellows 2024. From left to right: John O'Donnell, Laura Rodrigues, LSHTM Director Liam Smeeth, Jane Carlton, Chair of LSHTM Council Don Robert

The 2024 LSHTM Honorary Fellows are Professor Jane Carlton (Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute), Professor Laura Rodrigues (Emeritus Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at LSHTM), and John O’Donnell (former Deputy Chair and Interim Chair of Council at LSHTM).

The Honorary Fellowship is LSHTM’s most prestigious honour, conferred every three years on people who have rendered exceptional service to our School or have attained exceptional distinction in any of the subjects taught at LSHTM. The 2024 Fellows received their awards in front of hundreds of LSHTM graduates and their families during the annual graduation ceremony.

Professor Jane Carlton is recognised for her outstanding contributions to malaria research. A geneticist and leader in her field, she uses genomics to make important discoveries about malaria parasites and the mosquitoes that transmit them. She is Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and has long-standing research links with LSHTM. For the past 14 years she has been Director of an International Center of Excellence for Malaria based in India, where she leads teams at several institutes in India, in the UK including at LSHTM, and in the US, carrying out research and surveillance on the epidemiology, transmission, genomics, and pathogenesis of malaria.

Dr Sam Wassmer, co-director of the Malaria Centre at LSHTM, said: “Jane richly deserves this prestigious accolade, as she is a driving force in the fight against malaria. In addition to her exceptional achievements in malaria genomics, she has built equitable and thriving scientific partnerships across continents, and has inspired, guided, and supported the global malaria research community. I’m incredibly lucky to have worked so closely with Jane over the past decade, and very proud to consider her a mentor and a friend.”

Laura Rodrigues, Emeritus Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and former Dean of the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health at LSHTM, has been a leading figure in infectious disease epidemiology for over 30 years. She has conducted ground-breaking research on a wide range of public health issues including vaccines, links between infection and allergy, tuberculosis, HIV, dengue, and leprosy. Professor Rodrigues played a key role in the Zika virus disease epidemic in Latin America. For example, she published, with colleagues, the first case-control study of Zika infection and microcephaly and laid the groundwork for many studies to successfully continue after her retirement. She was also instrumental in setting up, with Brazilian collaborators, the 100 Million Cohort, a linked database of over 100 million individuals in Brazil, containing information on housing conditions, education, income and health outcomes.

Richard White, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling at LSHTM, said: “Laura is an outstanding researcher, colleague, teacher, mentor, and role model. Laura’s strengths extend beyond her rigorous and prodigious scientific outputs; they include her commitment to the development of epidemiologic research methods for infectious diseases, her continued engagement with research across the spectrum of developed and developing countries, and her fierce commitment to diversity in science, equitable collaboration and excellent training.”

John O’Donnell provided exceptional service to the LSHTM Council for over a decade, including as Deputy Chair, a period as Interim Chair, and key contributions to finance and development. He was first appointed to the Council - the governing body of LSHTM with responsibility for its operational and strategic management - in 2011. In 2019, after serving three terms on the Council, he was asked to continue for an exceptional fourth term to oversee the recruitment of a new Chair of Council. He also set up and was a member of the selection panel for the recruitment of a new Director of the School, Liam Smeeth, to replace Peter Piot who retired as Director in July 2021. He provided crucial expertise and leadership, with many responsibilities including oversight of the construction of our new building at Tavistock Place, the master plan for the Keppel Street site, and the construction and refurbishment of facilities in The Gambia and Uganda.

Don Robert, Chair of Council at LSHTM, said: “During his long service to the LSHTM Council, John provided extensive leadership and expertise during a period of great change and uncertainty. His work to strengthen the governance framework has had a far-reaching impact on LSHTM, and we will continue to benefit from this for years to come. John’s leadership in forming the Finance and Development Committee was also extremely important as LSHTM underwent a number of changes and major projects. His contributions helped to ensure continuous investment in the School, supported by proper rigour and discipline.”

Professor Liam Smeeth, Director of LSHTM, said: “Our 2024 Honorary Fellows are worthy recipients. In their different ways, all three have made exceptional contributions to improving health worldwide. I’m delighted that we can acknowledge their dedication and service in this way.” 

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