Lord Jim O’Neill receives honorary fellowship - News & Features

18 May 2018
Lord Jim O’Neill receives honorary fellowship

The Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) hosted a glittering event at the British Medical Association (BMA) to celebrate Lord Jim O’Neill’s honorary fellowship.

Held in the BMA’s Garden Room, the event drew a wide array of guests from learned societies, medical institutions and academia. The lush gardens proved a summery setting for the party which proved highly social and entertaining.

AMR and economics

Accepting his fellowship, Lord Jim O’Neill admitted that receiving the honour meant more to him than any award from an economic institution. Discussing his Review into AMR, O’Neill expressed cautious optimism that more institutions were funding work in the field. However, he talked about the importance of better diagnostics and was cheered by the fact that the World Health Organisation had published its first essential diagnostics list this week.

O’Neill highlighted the unavaoidable fact that there was still muchwork to be done.

“To slow the increase in drug resistant infections, we need to focus not only on treating those who are already sick, but on reducing infection and transmission rates, reducing unnecessary prescriptions, and cutting down on the number of antimicrobials in the environment”

Jim O’Neill stepped down from Government, having been Commercial Secretary to the Treasury from May 2015 until September 2016. He then chaired a formal Review into AMR (antimicrobial resistance) reporting its final recommendations in May 2016, and contributed to high level agreement at the UN in September.

Views from the garden

ECS member Jennie French said: "I was able to get a really insightful interview with Lord O’Neill and it was great to be part of an event that was a first for the society in a beautiful location with such a relaxed atmosphere. Despite only being a student I didn’t feel inferior to the people who were high up in their careers because it was a celebration of a great achievement that everyone could recognise the significance of!"

Lucy Harper, SfAM’s CEO reflected on the evening: 

“We are honoured to award Lord O’Neill with the first SfAM Fellowship. His passion for finding a solution to the global challenge of AMR is clear, as is the continuing impact of the O’Neill Review. Some have asked us why bestow this award on somebody who isn’t a microbiologist: to me, the specialism isn’t important and if anything, highlights the interdisciplinarity that’s needed in tackling such a multi-faceted issue.”