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Cardiff immunologist receives Wellcome Trust fellowship

7 August 2017

Professor Ian Humphreys

Cardiff University researcher is awarded prestigious Wellcome Trust fellowship to study antiviral immune responses

Dr Ian Humphreys, Division of Infection and Immunity and Systems Immunity URI, has been awarded £1.95 million from the Wellcome Trust to study the role of innate immune activation in viral disease and vaccination.

Our body’s immune system protects us from infection, but sometimes it over-reacts and causes organ damage through a process called ‘inflammation’. The 5-year programme, which is a renewal of a prestigious Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Sciences, will employ a powerful combination of viral infection models, stem cell biology and genome-wide gene editing techniques to understand how this complex balance between pathogen control and virus-induced inflammation is regulated. These studies will identify what inflammatory pathways drive disease in situations where the antiviral immune response goes wrong.

Vaccinations work by triggering immunological memory that can remember, respond to and control infections. Viruses such as the herpesvirus cytomegalovirus promote long-lasting and strong immunological memory, and are subsequently being explored as possible viral-based vaccine vectors. The Wellcome Trust fellowship will also identify how manipulating virus-induced activation of the immune response can improve the efficacy of viral-based vaccinations.

These studies will identify 1) inflammatory pathways to target in the treatment of viral diseases and 2) novel vaccination approaches that may be applicable to a broad array of infectious and non-infectious diseases including HIV and cancer.

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