early careers_Apr19
L-R: Kendle Maslowski, Lisandra Mendoza, Rebecca Drummond and Caroline Gorvin

Four researchers from the College of Medical and Dental Sciences have received funding from the Academy of Medical Sciences, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Cancer Research UK to further their scientific endeavours.

Kendle, a Birmingham Fellow within the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, has received a Career Establishment Award from Cancer Research UK that will support Kendle’s newly-established lab for the next six years.

“This funding will enable us to investigate the mechanisms of bacterial cancer therapy and how to best use it for treating colorectal cancer,” explains Kendle.

“Attenuated (weakened) bacteria are an attractive cancer treatment, as they very specifically only go into cancer tissue where they have anti-tumour effects. However, how they work is poorly understood, making their application in the clinic very limited.

“In my lab we will be dissecting how the host cancer and immune system responds to treatment with an attenuated Salmonella typhimurium strain, as well as to understand how the attenuated Salmonella adapts to the cancer environment. We hope to better engineer the bacteria to elicit maximal response in the cancer.”

Lisandra, of the Institute of Microbiology and Infection, has been awarded an Individual Fellowship from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions that will support a new research project, ARCS (Antibiotic Resistance in Clinical Sewage microbiomes).

“Antibiotics are essential for treating bacterial infections, but antimicrobial resistance continues to spread among pathogenic bacteria,” says Lisandra.

“Identifying the microbial hosts of the antibiotic resistance genes in an ecosystem is a challenge; it has been shown that antibiotic resistance genes can spread from human gut commensals to clinical pathogens and vice versa.

“Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes are present in high levels of wastewater from clinical sources. The aim of my project is to identify the antibiotic resistance genes exchange networks in these clinical sewage microbiomes.”

Rebecca, a Birmingham Fellow within the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, has received an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award.

“My research focusses on fungal immunology,” says Rebecca. “I study the responses of macrophages in different tissues during fungal infection, to better understand how organ-specific immunity develops and determine why some organs are more permissive to these types of infections than others.

“The Award will enable me to establish one of the few research groups in the UK to study immunity to fungal infections, with a special interest in fungal brain infections, which are currently very poorly understood.”

Caroline, of the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, has also received an Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard Award.

“The Award will allow me to explore my ideas and perform innovative research that is not possible with smaller start-up funds,” reveals Caroline.

“My research is focussed on understanding how G protein-coupled receptors involved in food intake and appetite are regulated. This involves investigating how these receptors signal within the cell, how they are trafficked to and from the cell surface, and how they cross-talk with each other.

“This is important as obesity is a major global healthcare problem, which is predicted will affect half of the worldwide population in the next ten years and is a risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”