Colleague recognised with the inaugural Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award

Colleague recognised with the inaugural Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award

Colleague recognised with the inaugural Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award

Aimee Paterson receives her award from Prof. Amrita Ahluwalia
Aimee receives her award from Prof. Amrita Ahluwalia

On 5th December, Aimee Paterson was presented with the inaugural Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award at the tenth annual Openness Awards hosted by Understanding Animal Research (UAR). Aimee is a supervisor in the Institute’s Biological Support Unit and received the award in recognition of her passion and bravery in talking about her work and that of the unit more widely in the Institute’s takeover of UAR’s Instagram account as part of Mouse in Research week in May 2023.

Hannah Hobson, Head of Communications and Engagement, Understanding Animal Research, said: "The entire UAR team is delighted that Aimee is the recipient of the inaugural Professor Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award. This award is about recognising the bravery of those individuals who are speaking up about the use of animals in scientific research, especially when public engagement is not part of their everyday job. Aimee put her face and name on social media in a way that many people within the sector are not comfortable doing. Aimee's courage and passion to talk about her work perfectly embody the spirit of this new award and we hope she will be an inspiration to many within the sector. " 

The award was created in memory of Sir Colin Blakemore and launched in 2023 with funding from the Biomedical Research Education Trust. The award recognises an individual from a signatory organisation who has worked to improve public understanding of how and why animals are used in research. Sir Colin was a leading neurobiologist, a widely known and respected scientist and CEO of the Medical Research Council from 2003 to 2007. He was deeply committed to engaging the public with research and a vocal supporter of openness. Sir Colin received UAR’s first Openness Award in 2014 and showed great courage and commitment in continuing to talk about the importance of research using animals in the face of animal rights extremism. 

Screenshot of person at the bench and text to introduce the Instagram takeover

On receiving her award, Aimee said: “It’s an honour to receive the first Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award. He left such a legacy to inspire us all. In terms of openness, I feel that we can all play our part to accurately portray why and how animals are needed in research and I’d like to thank everyone who joined me in talking about the Institute’s animal facility and their own careers. The Concordat community provides incredible support, and I was delighted to join them to receive the award and celebrate the outstanding work of signatory members.” 

Dr Louisa Wood, Head of Communications at the Institute, who leads on the Institute’s openness activities and worked with Aimee on the Instagram takeover, commented: “Aimee’s leadership in coordinating the facility's participation in the recent UAR Instagram takeover was exemplary so I’m delighted that her efforts have been recognised in this way. She enthusiastically embraced the opportunity, helped shape our approach, brought colleagues onboard and was a real beacon of openness throughout the whole project. I am sure that her positive approach to openness opportunities will inspire and motive other animal technicians to be active in speaking out about the realities of their work, their pride in their jobs and animal technology as a career choice.”

In addition to the Sir Colin Blakemore Memorial Award, two further Openness Awards were presented for activities demonstrating and advancing openness: 

  • a social media campaign by Imperial College London and a team from ICL’s biological service was recognised for raising the awareness of laboratory animal welfare and amplifying the voices of animal technicians. The campaign included a series of Twitter/X threads for #TechMonth followed by an Instagram takeover for #MiceInResearch week.
  • The University of Hertfordshire received an Openness Award for their engagement with their student population to explore how their openness activities could be improved. The survey led to clear recommendations on how to enhance openness through webpage content, in tutorials and in lab-based learning. 

The event also included the 86th Stephen Paget Memorial Lecture given by Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Pharmacology and Director of The Cardiovascular Clinical Trials Unit at The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London.

At the event, UAR shared their 2023 Annual Report of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, which highlighted the Institute’s website and animal research pages as an example of openness and transparency and other case study examples of openness activities from across the range of 121 concordat signatories.

Career Snapshot

Aimee Paterson started her career in 2016 as a Junior Animal Technician at the University of Cambridge after gaining her degree in Zoology. She worked with mice and aquatic frogs, gaining her Institute of Animal Technology (IAT) Level 2 qualification and Personal License (PIL). Following a secondment as an Experienced Animal Technician, Aimee began working at the Babraham Institute in 2019 in the Biological Support Unit. In 2021 she quickly moved to Deputy Supervisor and then on to a supervisor position in the Transgenic Unit. Since working at the Institute Aimee has gained her IAT Level 3 qualification, Named Animal Care and Welfare certificate and also supported the Institute’s commitment to openness on animals in research.

Related content

Watch our takeover by Aimee and her colleagues in the animal facility

Insights into the facility and work of animal technicians as well as career Q&As from staff


Aimee’s blog about getting social with the Biological Support Unit