Dr Leanne Marsay

The Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group. Postdoctoral RA

It was an episode of Quincy about an infectious outbreak that first sparked Dr Leanne Marsay’s interest in solving the problems of disease.

Growing up in the small North East England town of Middlesbrough, Leanne finished her A-Levels in 2001 before completing her undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences at the University of Leeds in 2004.

Moving to Oxford in 2008 to undertake a DPhil with Professor Helen McShane, at the Jenner Institute, Leanne worked on evaluating surrogates of protection for tuberculosis vaccines. In 2011 Leanne started her postdoc working on meningitis B vaccines with Dr Christine Rollier and Professor Adrian Hill at the Jenner Institute. This work is in equal collaboration with Professor Andrew Pollard at the Oxford Vaccine Group.

Having her first paper from work she completed during her DPhil accepted into the scientific journal Tuberculosis, Leanne says a major highlight of her career so far has been attending a Keystone conference on tuberculosis in Vancouver, and presenting her work at the International Pathogenic Neisseria Conference in Wurzburg in September 2012.

Leanne’s ultimate goal would be to have her own small group, with her own students, to focus on infectious disease.

“I had a challenging DPhil project and didn’t get a lot of positive results, which was frustrating, but being in an environment where there are a lot of students makes it a little easier,” Dr Marsay says.

“You just have to grit your teeth, work through the problems and believe that it will work out in the end.

“The Nuffield Department of Medicine has been great – there are a lot of options available to work in different places and different areas of disease and research. It’s helpful to see that it is possible to be a working mother in science, having outstanding female role models in the lab such as Helen and Christine has been really inspirational.”