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Dr Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships for the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)

Dr Brickell trained as a molecular biologist, and set up and led a research group at University College London studying embryonic development and leukaemia. From 1995 to 2002 he was Professor of Molecular Hematology at the Institute of Child Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London, where he established a highly successful interdisciplinary childhood cancer research department.

Paul completed a career change in 2002 in order to contribute to the regeneration of his ‘home town’ of east London, first as Director of Regeneration and Chief Executive of the Bromley by Bow Centre and then as Chief Executive of Leaside Regeneration. He contributed to the early visioning of the Lower Lea Valley and to the delivery of new homes, physical infrastructure and green spaces. The practical involvement of people from local communities was central to this work.

In 2011, Paul joined the London Legacy Development Corporation, whose task is to maximise the legacy of the 2012 Games for east London, by promoting physical, social, environmental and economic regeneration in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the surrounding area.

He says: ‘I was born and live in East London – civilisation hadn’t quite discovered us when, during a sabbatical at the Bromley by Bow Centre back in 1999, I heard the first inklings of the idea that the Olympics might be a way to bring new investment to the area and to inspire local people to take hold of new opportunities. I wrote a report and went back to my day job. Six months later I was asked to come and help do it. I went from limb regeneration into urban regeneration!

‘I think that what Birkbeck has done in Stratford with its new campus has been stunning. It is a tremendous link to the hunger that George Birkbeck, the College founder, had for working people to have the chance to learn and further their careers. Having a university of the quality of Birkbeck on the doorstep in Stratford means people will cross the threshold – taking important steps to enable them to make new choices in their lives.

‘I am enormously touched and grateful to be invited to be a Birkbeck Fellow, and I am looking forward to understanding all that the new relationship means. Stratford has sense of being pioneer country, and I also see Birkbeck like that; always adapting and experimenting and bringing new ideas. To be a part of that will be great.’