Dr Jajini Varghese, a Plastic Surgeon and Consultant in Oncoplastic Breast Surgery at Royal Free Hospital and University College London has been named the Outstanding Young Person of the World 2020 by Junior Chamber International (JCI) in the “Medical Innovation” Category.

JCI is a global leadership organization, which provides personal and professional development opportunities to young leaders age 18 to 40, through its international network.

The JCI honoured ten “incredible leaders and innovators of the future” under the age of 40 from 110 countries who have made extraordinary contributions and accomplishments in various fields such as Business and Entrepreneurship, Politics and Government, Academic or Cultural Leadership, Contribution to children or World Peace, Medical Innovation, Scientific advancement etc.

Dr. Varghese was the only person nominated from the UK, to win the International Award. 

She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Plastic Surgery (FRCS) and a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS). She is also on the Board of Examiners for the MSc in Plastic Surgery at University College London.

The Award, which carries a citation and plaque is to be presented at the International Congress in Yokohama, Japan. Previous winners have included John F. Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, Howard Hughes, Nelson Rockefeller, Anthony Robbins, Benigno Aquino, Jackie Chan and Elvis Presley.

Dr. Varghese completed her MPhil and PhD on the “Genetics of Breast Cancer” at the University of Cambridge on Full Cambridge Commonwealth Scholarships. Thereafter, her research has been to identify susceptible women with high breast density and to find out their genes associated with breast cancer. This led to the discovery of the ZNF 365 gene associated with breast cancer in collaboration with Harvard University and the Mayo clinic which was published in several academic journals including Nature. This genetic mutation which confers a higher risk in the carriers, is now used in microarrays worldwide to identify women with a genetic predisposition for early detection, prevention and prophylactic treatment of breast cancer.

Dr Varghese has won several other prizes during her career including at the Association of Breast Surgery Conference, Manchester, First Prize at the UK Radiology International Congress, Manchester, First Prize for Best Research at Addenbrooke’s Hospital Research conference, Cambridge and at the Raising Standards Research Conference at QE Hospital, London. She was also chosen to attend the WHO Graduate Programme in Geneva.

She has presented research at Kings College London, University of North Carolina, (USA), Duke University (USA), BAPRAS London, NIHES, Rotterdam, European Genetics Conference- Amsterdam, The American Thorascic Society, The International Cancer Imaging Congress and The Wellcome Sanger Institute among others. 

When asked about her success, she replied, “I am only an ordinary individual with an extraordinary urge to succeed and to alleviate suffering. I count excellence as the eventual result of a continual striving to do better. I count myself fortunate to be healthy and love what I do, to be able to help others. We aim to restore people and lives. I can only search for the answers and heal the external scars but ultimately only God can heal the mutilations caused by breast cancer.” 

In her free time, Dr. Varghese is a trained Indian classical dancer and painter. She has won several prizes throughout her career. 

She lives with her husband and two children in London.