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The work of Tim Key, Professor of Epidemiology in Oxford Population Health’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit, has been recognised by one of the most prestigious scientific organisations in Europe.

The Academia Europaea is a pan-European Academy that encompasses all fields of scholarly inquiry, including humanities, law, social sciences, mathematics, medicine, and every branch of the natural and technological sciences. Its aim is to promote European research, advise governments and international organisations in scientific matters, and further interdisciplinary and international research.

To do this, it selects members who are among the most productive, innovative, influential, and pioneering researchers in their field in the whole of Europe's available scientific community, ie in the top 1% of their area of study. Current membership stands at over 5,300, including around 80 Nobel Laureates, and nearly 1500 fellows in the Life Sciences Section.

This year’s new members include Tim Key who was elected to the Clinical and Veterinary Science Section.

Before Oxford, Tim was a practising veterinary surgeon and reported the first cases of a newly recognised disease, feline dysautonomia or Key-Gaskell Syndrome. Since joining the University of Oxford in 1985, Professor Key has published over 800 papers, the majority on the roles of hormones and diet in the aetiology of cancer, particularly cancers of the breast, prostate and colon, and the health status of vegetarians and vegans.

Tim’s work focuses mainly on the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), as the principal investigator of the Oxford cohort of 60,000 subjects, including 30,000 people who don’t eat meat. He also coordinates the Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group and works on other international consortia on both diet and endogenous hormones.

Tim’s work has contributed to better understanding of the impacts of hormones on cancer risk, showing that high levels of oestrogens are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, high levels of active testosterone are associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer, and that high levels of insulin-like growth factor-I contribute to the risk of both these diseases. On plant-based diets, papers from Tim’s group have shown that vegetarian diets in the UK are associated with relatively low risks of obesity, diabetes and ischaemic heart disease, but with increased risks of stroke and fractures.

Professor Key said ‘Election to the Academia Europaea recognises the long-term collaborative international work by the team in CEU with colleagues across Europe and the rest of the world. Thanks are due to the support by the department, the participants who enable our studies to happen, and the funders. I am looking forward to sharing the findings from our research with Academia Europaea colleagues, and to being part of an organisation that works to advance excellence in scholarship.’