Professor behind medical school and Covid testing initiative is retiring

Professor Dylan Edwards

Professor Dylan Edwards is retiring from the University of East Anglia after 23 years. - Credit: Neil Hall/UEA

A celebrated university professor will retire this week after more than two decades but already has another career in mind by training to become a humanist celebrant. 

Professor Dylan Edwards, pro-vice chancellor for medicine and health sciences, will retire from the University of East Anglia after 23 years on Friday. 

He came to Norwich from the University of Calgary in 1998 as the Big C chair of cancer studies at UEA's School of Biological Sciences.

He said he felt a range of emotions, including pride for the work he and colleagues have achieved, including the development of the medical school and the creation of one of the leading Covid-19 testing initiatives. 

In 2004, he coordinated the European Union Framework Programme 6 “Cancerdegradome” Project, which involved 41 partner laboratories in 13 countries securing a €10m research project.

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But it is the work within Norfolk that he is proudest praising his colleagues and the university's connection with Norwich Research Park (NRP). 

Prof Edwards said: "I feel a lot of pride for everything we have done, we are a really good university. We do our best to promote to give the students a fantastic education, a fantastic experience. We are doing our best to produce world-leading research.

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"A key thing for me is what we did during the Covid pandemic and getting the Norwich Testing Initiative to work to test all our students and staff. There were very few initiatives in the country that were able to provide that testing, it was way before lateral flows, and we were doing it. 

"In one way Covid has put UEA on the map in terms of research expertise understanding the pandemic and the response shows our world leading research. 

"Other universities would kill to be in the position of UEA with world-class health and science establishments on their doorstep.”

He plans to spend more time with his wife Rosemary, take his dog Monty on long walks and learn to cook, as well as train to become a humanist celebrant following the loss of close family members. 

The Big C trustee said: "I really want to help others that have gone through a similar experience to help celebrate lives when they lose loved ones but in a non-religious way."

But even though he is retiring, it will not be his last Thank Goodness it's Friday (TGIF) event at the school, which he started more than two decades ago. 

He said: "It’s a time to get together at the end of the week with colleagues, sometimes their families, and have a chat and a beer. I will miss all my UEA colleagues, I have many long-standing friendships. But I think it’s quite likely I might turn up on a Friday afternoon at some point.”

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