The Wellcome Genome Campus holds annual awards for Best Practice in supporting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in science on International Women’s Day. This year, two Churchillians were among the 20 nominations made; Postdoctoral By-Fellow Dr Marcela Uliano da Silva and current Churchill PhD student Dr Dinesh Aggarwal (U&G07), who received a special commendation award on the day!

The Best Practice Awards commend staff from all roles and levels across the Wellcome Genome Campus who have advanced Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The nominations recognise those who may have gone above and beyond to champion EDI activities that positively influence the scientific culture and working environment on the Wellcome Genome Campus, or may be allies who actively advocate for others and support their colleagues to bring about positive change. The awards also celebrate those who are positive role models, who promote EDI through effective mentorship, or staff who proactively embed EDI principles into their day-to-day responsibilities.

There were 2 overall winners and 5 special commendations, which were announced on the 8th March (International Women’s Day) and Dinesh Aggarwal received his special commendation for the work he has been doing alongside his PhD.

Dinesh, as the (previous) National Professional Trainees’ Representative for Infectious Diseases doctors, initiated the first investigation into the diversity of recruitment outcomes in infection medical specialties, published findings, and reported these at a national level. Subsequently, he proactively acquired data to conduct a cross-sectional observational study to characterise the diversity of successful recruits from over 37,000 applicants to medical and surgical specialist training in the NHS by gender, ethnicity, and disability. The work, of significance to the entire medical workforce, was presented to members of the HEE Recruitment, Policy and Regulation, Workforce Planning, and EDI teams. Currently under peer-review, it provides a framework for similar national studies to be carried out in academia and encourage inclusive action in a data-driven manner. Dinesh has joined the EDI Operations Committee in the Department of Medicine and presented to the Cambridge Veterinary Medicine School EDI committee to help drive local EDI-related initiatives.

Marcela is an expert in genome assembly and analysis at the Sanger Institute’s Tree of Life Department. Additionally, she co-chairs the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (JEDI) for the Earth Biogenome Project (EBP), which aims to sequence reference genomes for all life on earth. JEDI issues are critical to achieving this ambitious goal, and Marcela is particularly passionate about ensuring that – in the process of sequencing everything – infrastructure development, training, and protagonism are brought to the global south, where biodiversity hotspots are located. The JEDI committee also advises on gender balance, respect for indigenous peoples, and career development for young researchers who will shape the future of biodiversity genomics.

Many congratulations to both Marcela and Dinesh on being nominated for this prestigious award and to Dinesh on being awarded a special commendation!

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