It is with great sadness that we learnt of the death of Sir David Weatherall this weekend. Sir David Weatherall, fondly called ‘Prof’ by those who knew him, was a general physician, a haematologist and clinician scientist whose research focused on the genetics of blood disorders affecting haemoglobin, such as thalassaemia and sickle cell disease. As Nuffield Professor of Medicine, David inspired several generations of clinicians and scientists to investigate the molecular basis of human diseases and apply this knowledge to improve human health.
The UK’s first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark MP, represents a major commercial opportunity and also a new front line in the nation’s defence against global pandemic threats. Led by the Jenner Institute, the new centre has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation of £66 million through the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge.
Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics researcher Dr Ross Chapman has been selected has one European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Young Investigators for 2018. The EMBO Young Investigator Programme identifies recent group leaders with a proven record of scientific excellence and offers them access to a range of benefits during their four-year tenure. These include an award of 15,000 euros, with the potential for additional funding, mentorship by a senior scientist from the community of EMBO Members, access to training in leadership skills and responsible research practices, as well as networking opportunities.
Many congratulations to Prof Ling-Pei Ho, who was awarded £872K to study an exciting new research avenue in lung fibrosis. Prof Ho will lead a network of collaborators from King's College London, Newcastle and the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge in this endeavour. The programme will take advantage of advanced technologies such as single cell RNA sequencing, mass cytometry, and gene editing. The team aims to build a detailed view of how the immune system impacts on the regeneration potential of the lungs following injury.
Funding will be provided to the University of Oxford through the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by as part of a £50 million investment to establish a network of digital pathology, imaging and AI centres, to drive innovation in the use of AI for improved diagnosis and delivery of precision treatments. Oxford is to be home to one of the five new technology centres across the country, and is also a collaborator in two of the other centres, with local activities integrated within the Big Data Institute.
Professor Faith Osier's TED talk, accepted in April 2018, is now published as one of few by the TED Fellows Talks. Faith Osier, Professor of Malaria Immunology at our Kenya research unit, talks about the key to a better malaria vaccine. The malaria vaccine was invented more than a century ago, yet each year hundreds of thousands of people still die from the disease. How can we improve this vital vaccine? In this informative talk, Faith shows how she combines cutting-edge technology with century-old insights in the hopes of creating a new vaccine that would eradicate malaria once and for all.
A team of Oxford University researchers have worked on behalf of UK Biobank to apply sophisticated new statistical techniques to genetic information from all 500,000 volunteer UK Biobank participants. They have ensured high data quality and been able to impute the number of testable genetic variants – the letters in our DNA code that vary from person to person - from 800,000 to 96 million, a more than 100-fold increase in useful data. Imputation compares the selected genotyped DNA with analysis of the full human genome, to allow scientists to accurately predict DNA code at non-selected sections.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disease with limited treatment options. Up to 40% of patients with IBD fail to respond to conventional therapies, partly due to our limited understanding of the cells that form the large intestine, but also how they change in in patients affected by this disease. The study published today by the group of Professor Alison Simmons at the MRC Human Immunology Unit paves the way for better treatments for IBD by providing the first detailed single cell resolution analysis of colon cells in health and disease.
In a landmark study that may herald a quicker, more tailored treatment for the millions of people around the world living with tuberculosis (TB), UK researchers have shown how our understanding of TB’s genetic code is now so detailed that we can now predict which commonly used anti-TB drugs are best for treating a patient’s infection and which are not.
The Antibiotics and Activity Spaces project is a survey of 4,800 villagers in Thailand and Lao PDR to better understand how people access healthcare and whether there are simple early warning indicators to detect 'problematic' antibiotic use. Marco J Haenssgen and colleagues recently hosted a photography exhibition in Bangkok on rare and vivid narratives of healing in Northern Thailand.
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