Tim Elliott

As Brexit becomes even more unclear, we cancer immunologists have been looking outward with a view to building stronger links with centres of excellence worldwide.

I had the privilege of taking a representative delegation of cancer immunologists from across the faculty to inaugurate the “La Jolla Institute and Southampton Centre for Cancer Immunology Immuno-Oncology Summit”.  I was delighted that John, our esteemed Associate Dean for Research, accompanied us and thanks to his strong performance at a Q&A, is now an honorary cancer immunologist.

The La Jolla Institute ranks 5th in the world for immunology impact and we have been developing strong links with researchers there in areas of cancer, asthma and allergy and inflammatory bowel disease: linked through shared immunological mechanisms.  The two-day scientific meeting was attended by about 60 – from the LJI-UCSD-Salk network and succeeded in highlighting areas of complementary research in cancer immunology.  It concluded with a round-table discussion and a list of actions to help draw our organisations together.  This will include a second Summit, to be held in Southampton in 2020 and supported by the University’s International Office.

We welcome three excellent graduates onto the 4yr PhD programme in Cancer Immunology, who will join other students on the i4PhD programme incorporating our Doctoral Training Partnership with QMUL, in October.  Applications were down slightly on previous years, and although we still got 57 from 11 countries, only two were form the EU.  I don’t know whether this is due to the uncertainty around the UK’s future in Europe, but my experience from appointments committees I have sat on recently, suggests that it might well be the case.

I have seen star European researchers citing Brexit as the reason for withdrawing from prestigious chair appointments at top UK universities over the past six months.  It has never been more important to guarantee our international colleagues, and especially our European cousins a stable, vibrant, prosperous and welcoming environment in which to prosecute world-leading research and teaching. If you need further reading, check out Sir Paul Nurse’s comments in a recent issue of Nature.

Building stronger links abroad despite Brexit

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