Never forget that humility is the mark of greatness
Welcome to The Short Read, our weekly peek behind the curtain at the people who make this amazing community tick. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for the latest installment.

Zisis Kozlakidis

Zisis Kozlakidis, PhD, Innovation Fellow and ISBER President, UCL

Dr Zisis Kozlakidis is a virologist, with a PhD in microbiology from Imperial College London followed by working experience in the design of viral diagnostics. His expertise in viruses, diagnostics and discovery of novel RNA viral species was acknowledged by being elected Fellow of the Linnean Society, and Turnberg Fellow by the UK Academy of Medical Sciences.

His current work at UCL involves the development and integration of new practices in routine healthcare and their associated financial impact(s) establishing their sustainability and long-term success. He has authored a number of works on the adoption of innovation in healthcare, including the application of operating and financial models. He holds an MBA from Cass Business School, City University and is co-founder of the Cass Healthcare Innovation Club. 

Zisis will be presenting at the third Festival of Genomics London in January 2018. On day one he will be speaking on ‘Tracking viruses in space and time’.


What are you working on right now?

At the moment I am pursuing two actions: the further improvement of the genomic-based diagnostics for adoption and use within routine healthcare in the UK and abroad; and secondly the greater pursuit of harmonisation in the field of Biobanking (where I serve as the President of the International Society -ISBER) through the dissemination of Best Practices and standards globally, that will guarantee the provision of high-quality, research-ready samples for researchers.


What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work at the moment?

The biggest challenge is the disconnect between the promise of the potential impact of new technologies – especially -omics based technologies- and the actual impact on patient care that has materialized so far. The adoption of the incredibly fast-paced technological progress into routine healthcare is a huge challenge in which we have to succeed, but requires time, perseverance and the acceptance of failure as well as success.


Name one big development that you would like to see in your field in the next 18 months.

I would like to see genomics-based diagnostics for pathogens such as Tuberculosis, HIV and Hepatitis C virus introduced in every UK hospital as part of the precision medicine initiatives across the country. I realise that this is an ambitious aim, but the UK is leading in this field and should continue doing so in the future.


What are you most proud of in your career?

That I managed to bring together elements from different sciences in order to answer existing questions (e.g. financial modelling, genomics and biobanking). This had to be done in the face of intense peer scepticism and very little funding – however it has proven successful.


Which scientists, living, dead, or fictional, would you invite to dinner, and why?

Without a second thought it would have to be Thomas Edison, he was one of the most unconventional scientists, combining inexhaustible perseverance, a keen eye for detail and observation; and the ability to translate all his experimentation into a series of practical technological innovations.


What advice do you wish someone had given to you at the start of your career?

The career you have does not have to be set in stone, if you don’t want it to be. It took some for me time to master the confidence, to start thinking more constructively and to creating my own path.

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Opinions and views expressed in The Short Read are the interviewee’s and not those of the home institution

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