Dr Alan Thornhill, currently Associate Director of Market Development at Illumina, Inc (Reproductive and Genetic Health) has recently been appointed Honorary Professor of Reproductive Genetics. Alan has amassed an impressive list of publications and senior academic positions in industry and the clinic and he has pioneered the interface between basic research and clinical practice in reproductive medicine. His approaches have led to new developments in clinical practice e.g. in genetic diagnosis, embryo freezing, gene expression and in the regulation of IVF practice.
Alan has distinguished himself in his position as Honorary Reader here at the University since his appointment in 2008, specifically with respect to his publications in the University’s name (14 in this period), income generation, research student support and guidance (Alan has supported 8 PhD and 7 MSc students with advice, clinical samples, income and co-authored publications), representing the University at national and international conferences, international conference organization, teaching innovation (Alan contributes regularly to MSc teaching and helped develop highly regarded graduate student programmes) and internal, local and national recognition (he was a co-recipient of a University of Kent Enterprise award). Since 2009, he has been a professional member of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) – the UK’s fertility regulator and was a key partner in the initiation and development of CISoR.
Alan’s research interests lie in understanding the basic genetics of early human development and taking that knowledge through to clinical application. He is relatively unique in the field of IVF in being, first and foremost, a basic scientist, second an active IVF practitioner who has held directorial roles in leading clinics, third a prolific industrialist and product developer with a leading role in a major biotech company; and finally an active member of government regulatory bodies. In his career he has Published over 50 full length, peer-reviewed, original articles on developmental biology, assisted reproduction and reproductive genetics that seek to answer fundamental questions relevant to human development and disease. These include the levels and patterns of gene expression in human preimplantation embryos, gross genomic differences in IVF embryos and the relationship between nutrient uptake, embryo morphology and genetics. His publications also reflect his leading role with the leading worldwide and European regulatory bodies and a commitment to applying new knowledge in the clinic for patient benefit. Students benefit from his authoritative and research-embedded teaching as he brings all the aspects of his considerable experience into the classroom. Alan has presented, chaired sessions and been an invited speaker at numerous national and international conferences and he was was co-chair of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis Society (PGDIS) meeting held here at the University of Kent. Alan has been listed in Who’s Who since 2012 and is a regular contributor to the media including: Television appearances e.g. ITV 24, ITN, Channel 5, SKY News, BBC News 24, Embarrassing Bodies (Channel 4), The 21st Century Girl’s Guide to Sex (Channel 5) and BBC 1’s The One Show. He is also a regular contributor to BioNews (run by Progress Educational Trust)
Alan is an integral part of CISoR’s future plans for research, innovation, teaching and enterprise and we are delighted for him and his family that he has received this award.