Queen Mary’s octopus expert Prof Tilli Tansey gets OBE

Prof TilliTansey of Queen Mary's College

Prof TilliTansey of Queen Mary's College - Credit: QM college

An expert in octopus brains who is now Head of Biomedicine research history at the London University’s Queen Mary college has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Professor Tilli Tansey has been recognised for “services to research in the medical sciences and to the public understanding of science”.

Her first PhD was on octopus brain chemistry before she went on to work as a research neuroscientist.

She was awarded a second PhD in medical history in 1990 and appointed to the Wellcome Institute as a historian of modern medical sciences, moving to Queen Mary in 2010 with a senior fellowship.

Her research focuses on the history of 20th and 21st century medical sciences, particularly physiology, pharmacology and the neuro sciences. She currently heads the History of Modern Biomedicine Research department at Queen Mary’s School of History at Mile End.


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Prof Tansey is joined in the Honours list by two distinguished former Queen Mary students.

Marcus Setchell, the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist for two decades who safely delivered the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s baby Prince George last July, has been knighted. Sir Marcus, now 70, was a student at the London Hospital’s Medical School in Whitechapel back in the 1960s which later became part of Queen Mary’s.

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Another former Queen Mary student, Dame Colette Bowe, currently chair of the Ofcom regulatory authority, was awarded a DBE. She graduated in economics in 1969, returning to Queen Mary in 1973 to pursue a PhD and was named last year as one of the most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

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