UK’s first female British-Indian professor receives Honorary Fellowship at UWTSD


Professor Meena Upadhyaya OBE has been conferred an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

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Professor Upadhyaya has worked in medical molecular genetics since the discipline’s infancy and is recognised as the first female British-Indian professor in medical genetics in the UK.  She is also recognised as a passionate advocate for women of ethnic minorities and is the founder of the Welsh Asian Women Achievement Awards now known as Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association and Ethnic Minority Women in Welsh Healthcare. 

Meena Upadhyaya completed a fellowship with the Royal College of Pathologists in 2000, becoming one of the first people to do so in the field of medical genetics. Her research career focused on many genetic disorders, especially neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. She has authored more than 200 scientific articles and three textbooks and received many awards including the Inspire Wales Award (2010) and the European Neurofibromatosis Association Award (2013) for her outstanding contributions to NF1. She was a professor at Cardiff University's Institute of Cancer Genetics and directed the All Wales Medical Genetics Service Research and Development Laboratory until her retirement in 2014, thereafter serving as an honorary distinguished professor at Cardiff University and has represented Cardiff at many international meetings.

Prof Upadhyaya has served as a Mentor on Dame Rosemary Butler’s Women in Public Life scheme and is a trustee for Women’s Equality Network for Wales, Race Equality First, Race Council Cymru, governor for India Centre. She was recently presented with the Saint David Award for Innovation, Science and Technology.

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In presenting Professor Upadhyaya to the degree congregation, Professor Simon Haslett, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement and International) said “I gives me great pleasure to present to Meena Upadhyaya for an Honorary Fellowship for her inspiration and enormous contribution to her field and to Wales and to its people”.

In her acceptance speech, Professor Upadhyaya said to the congregation “I would like to thank the Vice-Chancellor for giving me this honour today.  It is a huge privilege for me to be here today.

When I look over the past 30 years of my life with all the challenges that I have faced in getting here I would never have imagined that not only would I move up in my chosen career but would also help gain recognition for other women for their achievements despite the many obstacles they face.  I have been privileged and fortunate to make a difference to people’s lives either through my medical research or through my community work, so my message to everybody today, especially to the students, is never give up.  You will always have failures in your life but never give up because it will be followed by success. Unless you try you will never know your potential”. 

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