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Two professorships in translational medicine have been endowed at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology thanks to a generous gift from the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research.

Prof Chris Buckley (left) and Prof Tonia Vincent (right)
The Kennedy Trust Feldmann Maini Professorship in Translational Medicine will be held by Professor Chris Buckley (l), and the Kennedy Trust Maini Feldmann Professorship in Translational Musculoskeletal Sciences will be held by Professor Tonia Vincent (r)

The Kennedy Trust has been a long-time supporter of the University of Oxford through its partnership with the Kennedy Institute, a biomedical research centre that works to develop transformative new therapies for chronic inflammatory and musculoskeletal conditions.

The Trust's donation, together with matched funding provided by Oxford, has enabled the creation of the Kennedy Trust Maini Feldmann Professorship in Translational Musculoskeletal Sciences and the Kennedy Trust Feldmann Maini Professorship in Translational Medicine. The newly endowed posts have been named in recognition of rheumatologist Professor Sir Ravinder Maini and immunologist Professor Sir Marc Feldmann, whose ground-breaking work at the Kennedy Institute in the mid-1980s and early-90s helped to transform the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Dame Fiona Powrie, Director of the Kennedy Institute, said: 'We are so grateful to the Kennedy Trust for their generous gift endowing two chairs in translational medicine. The Kennedy Institute drives scientific discoveries into the clinic to find cures for chronic diseases. These gifts, focused on inflammatory and musculoskeletal diseases, will help us recruit and retain the best scientists and clinician scientists to deliver our goals today and in the future.'

The Kennedy Trust Feldmann Maini Professorship in Translational Medicine will be held by Professor Chris Buckley, who is the institute's Director of Clinical research and leads the Arthritis Therapy Acceleration Programme (A-TAP). Under Professor Buckley's leadership, A-TAP researchers are adopting novel approaches to speed up the development of new therapies for four related immune-mediated inflammatory diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Sjogren's syndrome and seronegative spondyloarthropathies.

Professor Tonia Vincent will be the inaugural post-holder of the Kennedy Trust Maini Feldmann Professorship in Translational Musculoskeletal Sciences. Professor Vincent is a consultant rheumatologist, Associate Director of the Kennedy Institute and Director of the institute's Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis. The centre brings together researchers and clinicians from across the University to improve understanding of the condition, develop treatments and create new imaging techniques for early diagnosis.

The Kennedy Trust: supporting outstanding science

The Kennedy Institute was formed in London in 1965 as the Mathilda and Terrence Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology. In 2011 the institute joined Oxford University and was incorporated into the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Science.

Since the move, the Kennedy Trust – which operates as a separate registered charity – has provided over £56 million in philanthropic funding to the institute. This includes supporting the construction of a £34 million purpose-built facility on the Old Road Campus, which opened to researchers in 2013. More recently, the trust's generosity has enabled the creation of a germ-free facility at the institute and a building extension, completed in 2021, to provide collaboration space for data science and offices for the management of clinical trials.

Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, said: 'At Oxford University we have a strong relationship with the Kennedy Trust. They provide an excellent example of how innovation that leads to major advances in clinical care can provide a feedback loop supporting even more outstanding science. Given the importance of inflammatory diseases we should be able to use these posts, so generously provided by the Kennedy Trust, to make further advances and improve the lives of those living with these diseases to make them even more bearable.'

Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Trust, said: 'The trust is delighted to continue its significant and long-standing commitment to the Kennedy Institute through its support for these two new chairs. Our relationship with Oxford has never been stronger and we are immensely proud of the world-class research carried out by the teams at the institute, as they forge ahead with new ground-breaking discoveries and their translation for the benefit of human health.'