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New Committee Members 2019

Following our recent elections for upcoming vacancies on the BSI’s Board of Trustees and Forum, the successful candidates have now been announced.  These representatives will play a huge role in how the Society develops over the next four years, so we thought you would like to find out more about their backgrounds and how they plan to represent the interests of the membership.  Below you can read each successful candidate’s nomination statement. 

Professor Allan Mowat

BSI General Trustee
Professor of Mucosal Immunology, University of Glasgow

“I am a clinically qualified academic with longstanding experience of research in mucosal immunology and first joined the BSI as a PhD student in 1978. I have always been a very active member, serving three terms as a Trustee, first as Chair of Council in the 1990s, as Groups Secretary (2000–2008) and from 2015 until now. During these terms, I was involved in the Society purchasing its first permanent home (Triangle House), its acquisition of charity status, the move to having an Annual Congress and the expansion of the Board to include non-scientists. As Groups Secretary, I championed the interests of the wider membership and was responsible for managing the Groups’ budgets and strategy, overseeing the financial reorganisation that was required for complying with charity regulations. I also managed the travel awards scheme.

“I have been involved in many other BSI activities, having spoken at Congress, Summer Schools and Regional Group meetings, as well as having been Secretary/Chair of the BSI West of Scotland Immunology Group and a founder of the BSI Mucosal Immunology Affinity Group. The BSI has expanded its activities significantly in the last few years, developing in many new directions, such as careers support, political and public outreach and widening the scope of its Board of Trustees. These welcome changes have come at a time when there has also been considerable movement within the managing office and the near future will be an important time for sustaining and growing these new roles. By applying for a second term as Trustee, I can be a crucial source of continuity and expertise which will help enhance the Society’s deserved position as one of the premier national societies in the world.

“My research career concentrated on the mechanisms that regulate immune responses in the intestine, using experimental models to investigate T cells, NK cells, dendritic cells, vaccine development and most recently, macrophage biology. This work generated >100 peer reviewed research articles and over 60 invited reviews, as well as invitations to national and international meetings. I have been a Councillor of the International Society for Mucosal Immunology since 2011 and was its President from 2015–17. Although not onerous in terms of time, these responsibilities have added to my experience of leading an academic society and managing budgets, as well as the organisation of international meetings. Throughout my career, I had extensive teaching commitments, having coordinated the BSc Honours course in Immunology in Glasgow for 17 years. I acted as external examiner for several undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the UK and supervised 24 PhD students. In addition to my primary job as an academic scientist, I am also an honorary consultant clinical immunologist in the NHS, with two weekly sessions based at Glasgow’s new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where the diagnostic immunology laboratory is the largest in Scotland.

“These varied responsibilities have given me a wide perspective of immunology and academic management, which I believe would make me an effective Trustee of the BSI.”

Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters

BSI General Trustee
Professor of Immunology, University of Surrey

“I have been a member of BSI for over 20 years. As a postdoc I benefitted from the networking opportunities presented by the BSI Congress, and later in my career I have had the rewarding experiences of running B cell sessions at BSI, and B cell meetings in the wider European community. These experiences bring home to me that to be an immunologist is to be part of a broad, important and exciting scientific community. As the UK has been going through some uncertainty with respect to our general position in Europe, I have been saddened that our colleagues from mainland Europe have sometimes felt that they are unwelcome. I feel it is extremely important to ensure that we maintain and reinforce our welcome and support for all our fellow immunologists wherever they may be. In particular, I feel that support for early career researchers is vital and that we should continue, and build upon, the BSI’s efforts to support ECRs, particularly to support people through the often difficult transition between post-doc years and later career. Whether that later career is in academia, industry, science communication or anything else – the growth of immunology as a discipline can benefit from a broad reach and we should do all we can to help early career immunologists fulfil their maximum potential.

“I am currently the Head of Immunology Section at the University of Surrey and my own personal scientific interests lie in B cell development in health and disease, looking through the lens of the adaptive immune repertoire. I also have an interest in the biology of ageing and have studied the ageing of the normal human B cell repertoire for over a decade. As a result of these interests I have often been in a position of working with computational biologists, physicists, mathematicians and therefore I have a good appreciation of the challenges of working across disciplines and also of the numerous benefits that interdisciplinary working can bring. As a trustee I would bring this perspective to the Board, and look for ways of facilitating synergy between disciplines/branches of a discipline in order to maximise funding opportunities for our members’ research.”

Professor Colin Dayan

BSI Clinical Secretary and Trustee
Professor of Clinical Diabetes & Metabolism, Cardiff University

“I trained in medicine at University College, Oxford, and Guy’s and Charing Cross Hospitals in London, UK before obtaining a PhD in the immunology of Graves’ disease in Laboratory of Marc Feldmann. I then spent a year as an endocrine fellow at the Massachussetts General Hospital in Boston, USA before completing my specialist training in diabetes and endocrinology as a Lecturer in Bristol. I became a consultant senior lecturer in medicine (diabetes/endocrinology) at the University of Bristol in 1995 and Head of Clinical Research at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology in Bristol in 2002. In 2010, I was appointed to the Chair of Clinical Diabetes and Metabolism and Head of Diabetes/Autoimmunity Section at Cardiff University School of Medicine.  I am currently Clinical Lead in the Division of Infection and Immunity at Cardiff University Medical School, Wellcome Inspire Lead for encouraging medical students to engage in research at Cardiff University, secretary of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland and Chair of Diabetes UK Type 1 diabetes Prevention and Therapies Clinical Studies Group.

“I have a long-established interest in translational research in the immunopathology of type 1 diabetes and thyroid autoimmunity.  I currently lead the UK Type 1 diabetes Immunotherapy consortium which coordinates 23 sites across the UK to recruit children and adults into immunotherapy trials and am Chief Investigator in the USTEKID trial of anti-IL-12/IL-23 in new onset type 1 diabetes as well as early phase clinical trials in the development of antigen specific immunotherapy. I am the lead for diabetes in the Cardiff whole pancreas transplantation programme. I have been part of two major EU FP7 programme grants in type 1 diabetes (and coordinator on one), a member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Medical and Scientific Committee and the Welsh Diabetes Research Unit. I am also Director of the MRC GW4 Biomed Doctoral Training Programme for PhD students. In thyroid autoimmunity I have a particular interest in thyroid eye disease (an autoimmune complication of Graves’ disease) and chair the UK Thyroid Eye Disease Amsterdam Implementation Group to improve treatment of this condition as well as the development of thyroid autoimmunity after treatment with alemtuzumab (for MS) for which we have recently developed European Guidelines. I am advisor to several companies regarding autoimmunity including Sanofi-Genzyme and Provention Bio. I have been a BSI member for 30 years.

“I would like to be Clinical Secretary/Trustee as I believe that we are now in a new era of targeted immunotherapy impacting on almost all clinical specialties (e.g. my own area of type 1 diabetes) and across many conditions not just allergy and immunodeficiency. I would therefore like to play my part in helping the BSI lead on linking autoimmunity research across the specialties and training the next generation of clinicians in the safe use of targeted immunotherapy.

“For publications and profile see Cardiff University website.”

Dr Faith Uwadiae

Forum Early Career Representative
Postdoctoral Training Fellow, Francis Crick Institute

“I am running for election into the BSI Forum as an early career representative. My enthusiasm for Immunology started as an undergraduate student at King’s College London and progressed during my MRes in Biomedical Research at Imperial College London. I continued this thirst for immunological knowledge by undertaking a PhD, at Imperial studying T follicular helper cell responses during chronic allergic airway disease. Recently, I moved to the Francis Crick Institute to undertake a postdoctoral position in the labs of Dr Jean Langhorne and Dr Dinis Calado, examining B cells and the link between malaria infection and Burkitt’s lymphoma.

“During my 5 years as a BSI member I have constantly profited from the benefits of membership and have a good understanding of the critical impact that the BSI can make to the careers of early career researchers. The BSI provides funding to attend both international and national meetings, networking opportunities via Affinity and Regional Groups and the Annual Congress, in addition to the regular Immunology schools. Personally, the BSI travel awards during my PhD have enabled me to attend and present my research at international conferences, while a recent BSI early career event helped guide my understanding of the expectations and realities of postdoctoral life.

“The main reason I want to join the Forum is because I am passionate about pushing policy to improve the diversity of UK Immunology. In particular, I am focused on enhancing the representation and support that the BSI provides to underrepresented groups, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics (BAME). While the BSI is clearly committed to making Immunology fair to all without discrimination, I believe more can be done to enhance diversity. Outside of the lab I spend a substantial amount of my time highlighting the issues around STEM and BAME representation via social media and by directly organising and participating in outreach events. Most recently this has included a month-long Black History Month Twitter campaign showcasing the successes of Black scientists, clinicians and inventors around the world, university lectures discussing STEM diversity and wiki-thons to enhance BAME and female representation. Personally, these are things that I would like to see the BSI getting more involved in. Recently the BSI completed a career survey for UK immunologists, where one of the main findings was early career researchers felt information about career advice, work/life balance and general role models was lacking. These findings resulted in the introduction of the useful early career event that I attended last year and a brand-new mentoring scheme. This makes it clear to me that the BSI has the power to use evidence-based approaches to encourage more diversity into UK Immunology, while maintaining our current diverse early career pool into more senior positions, which is why I want to get involved.

“I am dedicated to improving the diversity in Immunology and wish to represent early career researchers on the BSI Forum.”

Dr Federica Villanova

Forum Industry representative
Flow Cytometry Application Specialist, Miltenyi Biotec Limited  

“I see myself as a skillful and passionate immunologist, with extensive experience in both academia and industry, eager to contribute to the BSI’s promotion of excellence in immunology by joining the forum committee as an industry representative.

“My research career started in basic research, investigating the cell death mechanisms in cancer, during a PhD in Medical Biotechnology (Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy); I then moved to translational research, analysing the immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells (Imperial College London), and afterwards leading an international multicenter project in immunology of autoimmunity (King’s College London) in partnership with a global bioscience company.

“I enjoyed the close collaboration with basic and translational immunologists, as well as with clinicians and support staff, writing scientific papers and book chapters. Being part of both a European and a worldwide network (COSTENTIRE and FOCIS-HIPC) of selected academic and industry research groups for standardisation of flow cytometry-based immunological assays imparted the importance of working and interacting as a community to me.

“Presently I am working as a flow cytometry application specialist for Miltenyi Biotec, a company committed to empowering the advancement of biomedical research and to enabling cell and gene therapy. Supporting immunologists in academia, biotech, pharma, start-ups to achieve the most out of their flow cytometry experiments on a daily basis has widened my understanding of the different needs and challenges in various research environments.

“Engaging day-to day with Key Opinion Leaders, Chief Scientific and Executive Officers, Principal Investigators, post-docs, PhD students and more has enriched my scientific views, and I am privileged to share my knowledge with the newest members of the community by providing trainings and seminars.

“Within Miltenyi Biotec, the close interactions I have with the commercial and marketing teams, at both UK and global level, gives me the opportunity to influence the company strategy to best meet the scientists’ needs.

“In the UK, the BSI has always been a reference point for me in the immunology field; I have attended many national and satellite meetings, both as an attendee and as a sponsor, and always found a lively and professional atmosphere. Miltenyi Biotec has a gold corporate membership with BSI and is committed to supporting many of the very valuable BSI initiatives.

“I would be delighted and honoured to be an active industry representative in the Forum committee to further support the BSI in assisting the UK vibrant immunology community. With my professional experience, previous involvement in public engagement activities, current relationships with many national and international members of the scientific community and with my enthusiastic nature, I strongly believe I can make a substantial contribution to the work of the committee.”