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Dr Peter O’Toole appointed Vice-President of the Royal Microscopical Society

Posted on 7 September 2017

As Vice-President, Dr O’Toole will be supporting the current President Professor Michelle Peckham in forming the strategy for the RMS and managing its ongoing activities

Following their AGM in the summer, the Royal Microscopical Society have announced changes to their governing Executive Committee.

Dr Peter O’Toole from the University of York has been appointed as Vice-President of the Society and Professor Maddy Parsons has become the new Honorary Secretary for Biological Science.

As Vice-President, Dr O’Toole will be supporting the current President Professor Michelle Peckham in forming the strategy for the RMS and managing its ongoing activities. With over 1500 members worldwide and activities including an annual calendar of around 20 conferences and training courses, a scientific journal and an active Primary School scheme reaching thousands of children each year, this is a big responsibility to undertake.

Dr Peter O'Toole heads the Imaging and Cytometry Labs within the Technology Facility at the University of York which includes an array of confocal microscopes, flow cytometers and electron microscopes. His research is currently focused on both technology and method development of novel probes and imaging modalities. He has ongoing collaborations with many leading microscopy and cytometry companies and his group also provides research support to many academics and commercial organisations. Dr O’Toole is also heavily involved with teaching microscopy and flow cytometry which includes organising and teaching on both the RMS Light Microscopy Summer School and the RMS Practical Flow Cytometry courses.

Professor Michelle Peckham, President of the RMS said “I’m really pleased that the Society has elected Dr O’Toole as the new Vice-President. Dr O’Toole has done an excellent job of co-chairing our flagship mmc-series as well as emc2012 when we hosted the European Congress in Manchester. I believe that his passion for teaching and his work as an advocate for Imaging Facility Managers will make him a really great leader for the Society and I look forward to working with him further over the next 3 years.”

As Honorary Secretary for Biological Science, Professor Parsons will be championing life sciences in the activities of the RMS as well as acting as Life Sciences Chair for their successful flagship mmc-series, the next event being mmc2019.

Professor Parsons is Professor of Cell Biology at King’s College London. Maddy was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2005 to establish her own group within the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics at King’s College London. Professor Parsons has established collaborations with developmental biologists and clinical researchers to study adhesion receptor signalling in skin blistering, wound healing, inflammation and cancer. She works closely with physicists, biophysicists and other world-leading cell migration groups in the field to develop and apply new imaging technologies to dissect spatiotemporal cytoskeletal signalling events in live cells, tissues and whole organisms. As a result of her interest and applications of advanced microscopy, Professor Parsons developed a strong working partnership with Nikon, which subsequently led to the establishment of the state-of-the-art, world-class Nikon Imaging Centre at King’s College London of which she is Director. Professor Parsons also currently works alongside other biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop and apply advanced imaging approaches to basic mechanisms that underpin drug discovery. 

Allison Winton, Chief Executive of the RMS said “Professor Parsons has been an active member of the RMS Life Sciences committee for many years and has helped to organise both our Frontiers in BioImaging and Abercrombie meetings identifying key emerging topics and developing valuable links between the Society and many eminent scientists working in the field. Professor Parsons’ proactive and approachable nature as well as her vast knowledge and experience in the field will make her a great representative for biological science in the Society.”

The Royal Microscopical Society is a Charity that has been supporting and serving those who use microscopes in work and study since 1839. The RMS is the only Society dedicated to professional microscopists in the UK and is the largest of its kind in Europe. For over 175 years, the RMS has been alongside many important scientific discoveries and has welcomed some influential members including Louis Pasteur who proved that germs did not appear spontaneously and conducted pioneering research into how they can be fought, Ernst Ruska who was awarded a Nobel prize in physics for designing the first electron microscope and even HRH Prince Philip was President of the Society in 1966!
The international Society based in Oxford provides a community for microscope users with over 1600 members from 52 different countries and provides comments and advice to funding bodies and the government when they call for information on topics affecting microscopists, most recently Brexit and funding for BioImaging. The RMS runs around 25 training courses, networking events and large conferences for microscopists each year and has been selected to organise the next European Microscopy Congress in Copenhagen.

View the full RMS Executive Committee and Council at

The most recent mmc-series event, chaired by Dr Peter O’Toole, mmc2017 took place in Manchester from
3–6 July 2017. mmc2017, the Microscience Microscopy Congress, attracted over 1300 visitors and showcased over 100 manufacturers and suppliers of microscopes, equipment and consumables.