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Dr Clare Ling has been made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath). Currently running Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) Microbiology department and supporting the unit’s molecular activities, Clare is a clinical scientist who has worked at SMRU on the Thai-Myanmar border since 2012.

Claire Ling wearing a lab coat in her office © 2020 MORU. Photographer: Gerhard Jørén.

News of Clare’s prestigious FRCPath award was enthusiastically received by colleagues.

“Congratulations to Clare on this richly deserved accolade. She is an extraordinarily talented scientist who has made a huge impact on microbiology at SMRU, benefitting both clinical science and the large population served by the SMRU clinics,” said Prof Nick Day, Director of the MORU Tropical Health Network. “Being awarded an honorary FRCPath is a rare occurrence, and reflects the esteem that Clare is held in by her colleagues in the MORU Network and around the world.”

“This is very good news (a rarity these days) and a very well-deserved recognition!” said SMRU Director Prof François Nosten. “Under Clare’s leadership, the microbiology lab has expanded, discovered new pathogens in the population, supported the TB program and become a key partner of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health in the fight against COVID-19.”

Since joining SMRU, Clare has particularly enjoyed the synergy between humanitarian and research activities. She is invested in improving the quality of the laboratory procedures for both research and diagnostic purposes at SMRU and leads the laboratory safety committee. In addition to providing Microbiology support across the research themes (TB, MCH and malaria elimination), Clare is particularly interested in respiratory infections with ongoing collaborative projects on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. amphoriforme, Ornithobacterium hominis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Clare is also working with the Community Engagement team, FilmAid and colleagues at MORU to increase the awareness of Melioidosis on the Thailand-Myanmar border and to determine if it is a rare or undiagnosed infection in the region.

Following her honours degree in Medical Microbiology at Edinburgh University, Clare completed a three-year Clinical Scientist training programme at Raigmore Hospital Inverness. During this time, she obtained an MSc in Molecular Medical Microbiology at Nottingham University and carried out research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the aetiological agent of Lyme disease. She was a member of the team involved in the isolation of B. burgdorferi for from ticks in the Highlands of Scotland, the first time this had been achieved. 

Clare then moved to the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, London (RFH) where she ran the molecular diagnostic service; undertook at PhD investigating a recently discovered Mycoplasma spp. Mycoplasma amphoriforme with University College London (UCL) and played an active role in the training of other scientists. Clare’s last post before joining SMRU was with Public Health England, where she pursued the development and implementation of molecular methods for gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. 

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