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Report of the General Board on the re-establishment of the Sheila Joan Smith Professorship of Immunology

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In 1977, to mark the establishment of the School of Clinical Medicine in the University, the American Friends of Cambridge University offered the University a benefaction of $687,000 which had been made available by Dr Herchel Smith. As proposed by the Board of Directors of the American Friends, $650,000 of the benefaction was used for the permanent endowment of a Professorship in the field of medical studies, to be named after Dr Smith's wife, Sheila Joan Smith, and to be held, in accordance with Dr Smith's wishes, for the first tenure or for the first ten years, whichever was the longer period, in the field of cancer research. The remainder of the benefaction was used to constitute a Sheila Joan Smith Research Fund for clinical medical research (see the General Board's Report on the subject, Reporter, 1976-77, p. 981). On the advice of the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine, a single-tenure Professorship of Tumour Immunology was established and Dr P. J. Lachmann was appointed to the Professorship with effect from 1 October 1977. By Grace 5 of 17 February 1988, and on the recommendation of the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine, the Professorship was retitled the Sheila Joan Smith Professorship of Immunology.

2. The Professorship is due to lapse on 1 October 1999 on the retirement of Professor Lachmann. However, the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine have now proposed that it should be re-established for a further tenure. The Faculty Board have advised the General Board of their view that the Professorship should again be filled within the field of immunology, or in an area of molecular or cell biology research relating to immunology, since immunology plays a significant part in the medical curriculum and is also increasingly important in postgraduate medical education. There are a number of existing immunological programmes of teaching and research in the University, including those in the Departments of Medicine, Surgery, and Oncology. However, although research has advanced understanding of the abnormal function of the immune system, which is responsible for many severe allergic and auto-immune problems, much work remains to be done to elucidate the mechanisms of susceptibility and resistance to infection, which will lead, it is hoped, to improved methods of treatment, and possibly to the development of vaccines. More research is needed to throw light on the nature and extent of the immune response to cancer. Immunological research has important implications also for diagnostic technology and the diagnosis of infection and auto-immunity, while development work in the therapeutic control of the immune system and a better understanding of the mechanisms of rejection are required for organ transplantation; these advances will also benefit patients with auto-immune diseases.

3. The General Board have agreed to support the proposed re-establishment of the Professorship. The Faculty Board have assured the General Board that suitable accommodation for the Professor is available. The Board are assured that an appointment at this level will attract a strong field of well-qualified candidates; they have agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board that an election should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors and that candidature should be open without limitation or preference to all persons whose work falls within the field of immunology. The Board have also agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board that the assignment of the Professorship to a Department should be determined in the light of the research interests of the person appointed. The Addenbrooke's NHS Trust have agreed, if appropriate, to award an Honorary Consultant contract to the Professor.

4. The General Board recommend:

I. That the Sheila Joan Smith Professorship of Immunology be re-established from 1 October 1999 for one tenure, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Faculty of Clinical Medicine.

II. That regulations for the Professor, as set out in the Schedule to this Report, be approved.

10 March 1999



Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology.   1977.   Clinical Medicine

1. The sum of $650,000 received from the American Friends of Cambridge, representing a benefaction from Dr Herchel Smith for the endowment of a Professorship in the field of medical studies, shall form a fund called the Sheila Joan Smith Professorship Fund.

2. If and whenever the income of the Fund shall exceed the amount required for the payment of the stipend, national insurance, and pension contributions of the Professor payable by the University, the excess of the income over that amount may be applied to meet the cost of the work of the Professor in such manner as may be approved by the General Board on the recommendation of the Regius Professor of Physic.

3. Any unexpended income in a financial year may be expended in accordance with Regulation 2.

4. The Sheila Joan Smith Professorship of Immunology shall be limited to one tenure.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 17 March 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.