Three early career researchers from the Faculty of Medicine have been included in a flagship fellowship scheme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the University of Southampton.
The Anniversary Fellowship Scheme aims to develop individuals who have the potential and ambition to become research leaders in their field, and who will tackle adventurous and novel research challenges.
Jenny Lord, Liku Tezera and Anna Freeman have all been awarded the fellowships which received applications from 600 researchers across the University. They will each use the fellowship to support a research project.
Jenny’s project aims to improve diagnosis of rare disorders and enhance our understanding of non-coding mechanisms of disease using paired RNA and DNA sequencing from approximately 5000 patients with rare disorders.
She said: “I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity to take the next step in my career at the University of Southampton, and I’m looking forward to strengthening and building new collaborations across UoS.”
Anna’s study will assess whether a personalised exercise programme can improve how asthma symptoms are managed in patients who have ongoing symptoms despite receiving treatment. Participants will take part in a 12-week exercise programme, attending a gym three times a week. Measurements of blood, phlegm and exhaled breath will be taken before and after the exercise programme to understand how the exercise reduces symptoms, and if we can predict who it will work best for.
Anna said: “Exercise is known to be beneficial in health, and in asthma, small studies suggest it improves symptoms and may reduce asthma related inflammation. However, there has not been a definitive study to demonstrate whether a prescribed exercise programme can induce long term control of asthma symptoms.
“I am really excited to be awarded this prestigious fellowship. Alongside development of a Consultant Clinical Career, this award offers protected research and teaching time, during which I hope to build on the legacy of mechanistic asthma research at UoS, and increase understanding around the role of targeted exercise to increase resilience in chronic inflammatory disease.”
The fellowship will enable Liku to continue his research in how disease develops using a 3D bioengineered culture system.
Unlike the laboratory-standard 2D culture system, where cells are placed in a flat plastic dish, the 3D system uses an engineering technique to suspend them in droplets – like frogspawn. This enables researchers to better observe changes that occur in cells.
Liku has been using this technique, which he developed over the past 10 years to study TB.
He said: “This fellowship will provide the ideal springboard for me to build on further development of the bioelectrospray model of TB into a cell culture platform that can be used to address multiple human diseases, ranging from antimicrobial-resistant infection to cancer by incorporating emerging technologies to investigate biological processes.”