New BMA Award: Exploiting exosomes to improve vaccines for influenza & other infectious diseases

Dr Lynda Coughlan and Prof Adrian Hill
Dr Lynda Coughlan and Prof Adrian Hill at the BMA Awards Ceremony

Jenner Institute scientists, Dr Lynda Coughlan and Prof Adrian Hill have been awarded the 2016 British Medical Association HC Roscoe grant for a research project which aims to develop improved vaccines for influenza.

Fifteen medical academics and research scientists were awarded a total of £500,000 at this year’s prestigious BMA Foundation for Medical Research Awards on Tuesday 22nd Novemeber. The awards were presented by BMA President, Professor Pali Hungin.

The BMA was one of the first professional bodies to award grants and prizes, with the aim of encouraging and furthering medical research. These grants fund basic and clinical medical research, covering a diverse range of research areas including viral infections, arthritis and cancer.

Commenting on the awards, Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair and chair of the foundation trustees said: “The work of the BMA Foundation continues to be a success, and each year we fund important, innovative projects to advance medical research. With research funding budgets constrained, we want to support and encourage the medical profession in pursuing high-quality research projects that deliver important improvements in patient care.”

Dr Coughlan and Prof Hill’s project will investigate how we can exploit exosomes to improve vaccines for influenza and other infectious diseases. Exosomes are nano-sized vesicles that are released by cells and they play important roles in cell:cell communication. The project will use viral vectored vaccines to manipulate exosomes so that they deliver fragments of the influenza virus to immune cells. It is hoped that this will increase and broaden the immune response following vaccination.

Commenting on the award, Dr Coughlan said: “As an early-career researcher starting to establish independence, this grant will have a huge impact on my future career. Exosomes are a new and exciting breakthrough in health-innovation and we hope that support of this research will lead to the development of improved vaccines for infectious disease in the near future”.

Information about this year’s winners can be found here https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/career/research-grants/winners

Applications for the 2017 round of grant awards open on 5th Dec: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/career/research-grants/apply-for-a-research-grant.