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Celebrating 50 years at the MRC for Andrew Nunn

01 September 2016

This month we are celebrating the 50th year of Andrew Nunn's service to the MRC.

Andrew joined the MRC in September 1966 working as a statistician for the Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases Unit (TCDU). Following the closure of the Unit in 1986, he continued to work for the MRC including six years on the MRC AIDS programme in Entebbe, Uganda before becoming the Head of the Division Without Portfolio at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) in 1998.

Over the years he has worked on trials operating worldwide, including being directly involved in the design, conduct and analysis of the programme of tuberculosis trials conducted in East Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. These led to the worldwide adoption of the highly effective short course chemotherapy for tuberculosis. Working alongside some of the top international researchers, Andrew's impact has not gone unnoticed over the years.

"Andrew has contributed greatly to the current state of knowledge and expertise in TB clinical drug trials in many parts of the world, probably more than any other statistician in recent times." - Dr Alwyn Mwinga, CEO Zambia AIDS Related Tuberculosis (ZAMBART) Project, Zambia

"I have learned an enormous amount about clinical trials and TB from Andrew, but the thing I admire most about him is his unfailing enthusiasm for tackling important clinical and public health issues, even after 50 years." - Professor Sarah Meredith, Professor of Clinical Trials and Deputy Director of MRC CTU at UCL

"The steady hand of this master statistician has done more than any other to develop new regimens for TB, to hone out the new and effective and to detect and discard the false starts which research inevitably makes." - Professor Peter Davies, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital

"Professor Andrew Nunn has been such a rare individual. For 50 years he has contributed carefully and substantively to the implementation of clinical trials in tuberculosis and a variety of other domains. It is thus with great pleasure and humility that we send our congratulations to Andrew on the achievement of this remarkable professional milestone." - Phillip LoBue (Director), Andrew Vernon, (Chief, Clinical Research Branch), Stefan Goldberg, (Senior Medical Officer, Clinical Research Branch), Division of TB Elimination, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA

"My colleagues and I are deeply indebted to Andrew. We have been very fortunate to be beneficiaries of Andrew's expertise and time which has allowed us to develop our extensive portfolio of research, training and capacity development focussed on improving the lives and health of disadvantaged populations everywhere." - Professor Ali Zumla, Professor of Infectious Diseases & International Health, Division of Infection & Immunity, UCL

"Andrew, congratulations on completing 50 years with the MRC. You and I have collaborated very closely, since 1994 on some pivotal trials such as Study A (when I was with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in Paris) and RIFAQUIN (here at St. George's, University of London). In both trials your input on the statistical aspects and the analyses were crucial to the success of the trials. Let us continue our collaboration for as long as we can." - Dr Amina Jindani, Honorary Senior Lecturer at St George's, University of London, and coordinator of the International Consortium for Trials of Chemotherapeutic Agents in Tuberculosis (INTERTB)

"I much enjoyed working with Andrew on many clinical trials over a number of years. I particularly associate Andrew with the highest standards of scientific integrity. He always ensured that our trials were well designed and that our results were fully and accurately presented and reported without bias. This meant that our research was internationally trusted and respected to the highest degree." - Dr David Girling, former member of the MRC TCDU and MRC CTU

"They broke the mould when they made Andrew Nunn. Such a kind, caring, intelligent, helpful, clever and thoughtful man. Andrew played a very big part in getting the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network going and he is still helping us. Ease off a bit, but please don't stop, Andrew. Heartfelt thanks from all your friends at the UKDCTN" - Professor Hywel Williams, Director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme, Professor of Dermato-Epidemiology and Co-Director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology, University of Nottingham

"Andrew's contribution to the field of global TB control is outstanding - his contribution to research on TB treatment has made a real difference to the lives of many people with TB around the world." - Dr Dermot Maher, Coordinator of Research Capacity Strengthening for the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), Geneva, Switzerland

"Andrew's quiet and calm manner together with his great wisdom and infinite patience make him a great colleague and teacher.  He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of tuberculosis and certainly qualifies as a clinical trialist by my definition - a statistician who people think is a doctor (or vice versa!)" - Professor Janet Darbyshire, former member of the MRC TCDU and Director of the MRC CTU

From all of us at the MRC CTU at UCL, we'd like to say a huge thank you to Andrew for his many years of service, and to many more!

Timeline for Andrew Nunn

We'd also like to take this opportunity to say congratulations to Sheila Thornton, PA to Andrew and Abdel Babiker, who started at the MRC on the same day as Andrew in 1966, with just a few years out of continuous service. Her hard work is integral to the organisation of the Unit and so we'd like to thank her for choosing the MRC all those years ago!