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Cardiff University professor is honoured in Biochemical Society awards

30 March 2021

A Cardiff University professor whose work focuses on finding new types of lipids and understanding their impact on our health has been recognised for excellence in the field of biosciences.

Professor Valerie O’Donnell is among 11 eminent bioscientists and early career researchers to be honoured in the annual Biochemical Society Awards.

She is an expert in biochemistry, whose research is focused on the analysis of inflammatory lipids generated by blood cells.

Using mass spectrometry methods developed in her laboratory, her team uncovered families of unique lipids, and demonstrated that many are essential for blood clotting and vascular inflammation.

With her colleagues, she recently found that these lipids drive abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) development through their interactions with coagulation factors and showed their essential role in venous thrombosis.

Her current research is focused on understanding how phospholipids drive inflammation and coagulation in AAA and COVID-19.

“This award was made possible by our work as a team, past and present, both in the research lab, clinical side, and within the LIPID MAPS group. I am honoured to have worked with so many great colleagues,” said Professor O’Donnell, who will receive the 2022 Morton Lecture Award.

Professor O’Donnell co-leads the ELIXIR UK Bioresource LIPID MAPS, funded by the Wellcome Trust. This international consortium with Babraham Institute, Cambridge, Swansea University and University of California San Diego, supports the field of lipidomics worldwide.

She is an Honorary Group lead at the Babraham Institute, an Associated Group lead at UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Member of Academia Europaea.

Professor Colin Bingle, Chair of the Biochemical Society’s Awards Committee, said: “We are living in extraordinary times and the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to shine a light on the value of high-quality research and collaboration in the life sciences.”

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