Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson’s research within the University of Exeter Medical School is centred around developing a clearer understanding of the disease processes by which beta cells are targeted and destroyed in type 1 diabetes.

In January 2012 she was awarded the network of Pancreatic Organ Donors (nPOD) Junior Investigator Award, followed in May 2014 by a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Career Development Award, two successes she says are a ‘dead heat’ for her proudest professional achievement so far. Sarah said: “The former was awarded for being a champion of collaborative spirit and data sharing, and for my dedication to type 1 diabetes research. The latter is extremely competitive and will provide funding to focus on my research for the next 5 years. Both I believe arose from my enthusiasm and passion to work with others without inhibition, to help collectively push forward our knowledge and understanding of the underlying disease processes involved in type 1 diabetes.”

Sarah says she has had the privilege of working with many inspiring ladies over the years and finds it difficult to single any one out. A powerful role model is Professor Malin Flodström-Tullberg, a virologist based at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “She is an amazing scientist, whose quiet but determined insightfulness, never fails to earn respect from those around her,” explains Sarah. “She is also a wonderful mother and therein lies my difficulty in picking just the one. Any woman who can successfully juggle a demanding career, partner, children and everyday life, gets my vote.”

Commenting on the theme of International Women’s Day 2015, Sarah adds: “I am lucky enough to be part of a team where my colleagues do treat me as an equal. So from this experience, I can see that the unique and different strengths and qualities that both men and women bring to a team, does indeed facilitate progress for all. I believe that equality can be applied to all areas of both work and play and should be embraced by all.”

Her advice to others is “Don’t ever give up on what you are passionate about”, a sentiment she applies to her own life, balancing personal and professional commitments. Luckily, both give her happiness, as she explains: “Out of work, I derive joy from my wonderful, supportive husband Ben and my two beautiful girls, Molly and Meredith. In work, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a team (both here in Exeter and around the world) of dedicated, passionate and fun-loving colleagues with whom I enjoy debating the intricacies of our work. A particular mention goes to my mentor Professor Noel Morgan; he has been a constant source of support and encouragement over the years and quite frankly is a joy to work with!”