All internal members of Council are staff or students at St George's.

Professor Jenny Higham

Professor Jenny Higham

Professor Jenny Higham is Principal at St George's, University of London. She previously had senior roles at Imperial College and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore.

In addition to managerial roles, she continues clinical practice. She has been named Mentor of the Year at the Women of the Future Awards, and has received a President and Rector's Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence, as well as the Imperial College Medal for outstanding leadership.

Corey Briffa

Corey BriffaCorey Briffa is the elected President of the Students' Union (SU) for 2016-2017.  He graduated in Biomedical Sciences in 2016, and has previously acted as Events Officer in the SU. 

Corey has also been President of the largest of St George's societies, the Teddy Bear Hospital.

Corey's aim is to ensure that students' views are heard and respected, so that the University can offer the best student experience possible. 


Professor Mark Fisher

Mark FisherProfessor Mark Fisher received his BA degree in Chemistry from Oxford University, and a PhD, also in Chemistry, from Harvard University (supervisor Prof Jeremy R Knowles, FRS).

In 1978, he joined the laboratory of Dr Martin Gellert at NIH, USA to work as a postdoctoral fellow on DNA gyrase, supported by a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fellowship. In 1981, he returned to England to the Biophysics Department of King’s College London (Head, Prof Maurice Wilkins, Nobel Laureate) as an independent Cancer Research Campaign Return Fellow. In 1983, he was appointed to a Lectureship in Biochemistry at St George’s, University of London, and was promoted to Professor of Molecular Biology in 1996.

Professor Fisher was Joint Foundation Director of the Cardiovascular and Cell Sciences Research Institute (now the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute) at St George’s and is currently Dean of Research and Deputy Principal. He has served as an Editor for the Biochemical Journal and on the Editorial Boards of AAC and JAC.

His main research interests have been the mechanisms of DNA topoisomerases and their role in antibacterial and anticancer drug action and resistance. He has made a number of seminal advances, including the double-strand break mechanism of gyrase and topo IV, the characterisation of a human immunoglobulin gene transcriptional enhancer, co-discovery of human topo IIbeta, development of yeast systems for overexpression of human topo IIalpha and beta isoforms and dissection of anticancer drug action. He was first to establish the mutational basis of antibacterial quinolone resistance in many key pathogens that led to the proposal of ‘dual targeting’ as a strategy to overcome resistance.

Professor Fisher's current interests focus on understanding the structural basis of the DNA gating mechanisms of gyrase and topo IV and how antibacterials interfere with the reaction. In collaboration with Dr Mark Sanderson of King’s College London, he solved the first crystal structures of quinolones and quinazolinediones bound to their topoisomerase-DNA targets - a major breakthrough - as well as the first structure of an ‘open clamp’ 3-gate topo II-DNA complex, a key reaction intermediate. His work has been supported by BBSRC, Cancer Research UK, and the pharmaceutical industry.


Sam Khavandi

Sam KhavandiCOUNCILSam Khavandi is the elected President of St George’s Students’ Union for 2017-2018.  He graduated in Biomedical Sciences in 2017.  Sam works to ensure that our students' voices are heard and listened to with the aim to provide a memorable experience for them here at St Georges.




Derek Mckee

Derek McKeeOriginally from Ireland, Derek McKee spent seven years in management before moving to London in 1985. He has lived in Tooting since then and was pleased to be elected by the Wandsworth Foundation Trust membership to St George's NHS Trust Board of Governors in early 2014, and then to St George's, University of London from January 2015. Derek is the elected member of support staff on the Council, elected by and from members of staff who are not academic staff.

Derek has a long association with the St George's site, spanning 25 years. He started working at St George's NHS Trust in 1990 as a Staff Nurse on General Intensive Care, and for the next 10 years worked on General, Cardiac Intensive Care, and in Breast Cancer. Following that he moved to St George's, University of London, and has spent the last 14 years managing the numerous medical and research websites at St George's.

Derek has an interest in twin studies and has occasionally been known to dig ditches for the National Trust.

Dr Aileen O'Brien

Aileen O'Brien

Dr Aileen O'Brien is a Reader at St George's University of London, and was appointed Dean of Students in 2015-2016. 

Roles she has filled at St George's include Admissions Tutor, MBBS4 Personal Tutor Lead, and Athena Swan Lead. She is the Psychiatry Undergraduate Teaching Lead. Dr O'Brien is an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust. 

She is the Training Lead for the National Association of Psychiatric Intensive Care Units, and on the editorial board of the British Journal of Psychiatry.


Professor Jane Saffell

Jane SaffellProfessor Jane Saffell is Deputy Principal (Education) and leads the University's Institute of Medical and Biomedical Education. She is Professor of Cellular Neurobiology and Bioscience Education.

She joined St George's, University in London in 2016 from a senior strategic education leadership role at Imperial College London. Originally from Kenya, her background is in molecular and cellular biology research in cell adhesion and motility, and research-based bioscience educational innovation.

Professor Saffell has a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology (King's), MEd in University Learning and Teaching (Imperial) and BSc in Biochemistry (Imperial). She is a member of a BBSRC Grant Committee (Molecules, Cells & Industrial Biotechnology) and the Royal Society of Biology Curriculum Committee. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and in 2015 won a HEA National Teaching Fellowship.

Awarded two President's Medals by Imperial College, for Outstanding Contribution to Innovation in Education (2011) and for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching Excellence (2015), Professor Saffell is proudest of her Imperial Students' Union awards for Best Innovation (2013) and Best Feedback (2014).

Professor David Strachan

David StrachanProfessor David Strachan, MD, MSc, MRCGP, FRCP, FFPHM, FMedSci is Professor of Epidemiology at St George's.

He qualified in medicine from Edinburgh University in 1981 and obtained his MD degree in 1990 for epidemiological studies of childhood asthma and the home environment in that city. In 1999, he was awarded the European Respiratory Society prize for paediatric respiratory research in Europe (jointly with Professor Derek Cook), for systematic reviews of the effects of parental smoking on health of children.

One of his earliest papers, published in 1989, proposed that infections acquired in early childhood may protect against the development of allergic diseases. This 'hygiene hypothesis' has stimulated many subsequent epidemiological and immunological investigations. His current research interests include genetic and environmental determinants of allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Professor Strachan was a founder member (in 1990) of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, which grew into a global network of over 300 participating centres. He was associate editor of Thorax from 1996 to 2006 and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2000.

Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:51