Dr Sarah Dimeloe and Dr Rebecca Drummond

Dr Sarah Dimeloe and Dr Rebecca Drummond from the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy have been awarded two out of six prestigious Research Prizes from the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine.

These awards are aimed at researchers in the early years of running their own groups, for whom receipt of the prize would make a significant difference to their research work. They are open to researchers working broadly in the field of biomedical science and preventive medicine and aim at giving young scientist the opportunity to develop their potential through a flexible £300,000 grant to be spent over a five-year period.

Dr Sarah Dimeloe’s work revolves around establishing tools and testing innovative, creative ideas to better understand the underpinning metabolic biology of the immune system. Specifically, the Lister Prize will support her to develop new models and methods to interrogate the pioneering hypothesis that like microbes, immune cells also share metabolites to build resource and increase their metabolism and protective function during an immune response.

If validated, this hypothesis would contribute to a better understanding of how immune cells undergo metabolic reprogramming. Although this process is necessary for these cells to exert their protective function, when dysregulated it frequently contributes to diseases including autoimmunity and cancer. Further insights into this process could reveal new pathways and targets for future discovery and translational research.

Commenting on the award, Associate Professor Dr Sarah Dimeloe said: “The Lister Fellowship will enable us to take our research in a new direction, which we are really excited about, and which we hope will uncover some fundamental aspects of biology of immune cells.”

Dr Rebecca Drummond’s project will focus on exploring how host immunity and co-infection influence fungal environmental adaptation in the central nervous system, leading to invasive fungal infections such as cryptococcal meningitis, which is a major cause of illness and death in people with HIV or AIDS, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Lister Prize will help Dr Drummond develop new tools, generate key datasets and form global collaborations that will enable her group to make significant advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of cryptococcal meningitis, leading to potential new drug targets and clinical benefit for patients around the world.

Dr Drummond said: “I’m thrilled that the Lister Institute has chosen to fund our research. Fungal infections in humans have historically been understudied and underfunded, and this Fellowship will allow me to set up state-of-the-art new models that will help us better understand the immunology of this important group of infections which currently kill a very large number of people around the world.”