In 2021 the British Society for Immunology launched an exciting new scheme, the BSI Career Enhancing Grants, to provide an extra level of careers support to members at different career stages and from different sectors.
Supporting current and future generations of immunologists throughout their careers is a vital part of our mission. We invested significant funds in this grant scheme in response to feedback from our membership. We listened to what the immunology community needed, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent impact on the sector.
In this first round of the pilot BSI Career Enhancing Grant scheme, we received a large number of applications of very high-quality and we are delighted to have awarded seventeen grants to BSI members, amounting to a total of £56,152. Many congratulations to the members who have been awarded funding – we are delighted to be able to support your career development!
Through this offering, we hope to continue building a strong immunology workforce that drives innovation and provides life-saving benefits to all.
Dr Donald Palmer, BSI Education & Careers Secretary and Chair of the BSI Career Enhancing Grants panel, said:
"As Education & Careers Secretary, I am proud to lead this new pilot grant scheme from the BSI. This grant will allow early career researchers to invest in their future careers and this scheme allows the BSI to support the immunology community through these challenging times. I wish the recipients of the Career Enhancing Grant every success."
Below are a few sample case studies from awardees of the first round of the BSI Career Enhancing Grants in late 2021. Read on to find out more about the projects and activities being funded.
Dr Delphine Depierreux, University of Cambridge (she/her)
The BSI Career Enhancing Grants supported Delphine's participation in the EnterpriseTech programme organised at Cambridge Judge Business School. Over twelve weeks she attended lectures and workshops and worked on a team project to deliver a pitch, video and commercial report. The programme was an enriching experience that allowed her to understand what it takes to translate scientific research into a viable product. She learned entrepreneurial thinking and it brought a new perspective to how she looks at her research in the lab, learnings which the BSI is delighted to have supported.
Sylvine Lalnunhlimi, King’s College London (she/her)
Sylvine has been a Research Assistant in the field of clinical research for several years but is now interested in getting training in clinical trials management after gaining some experience of it at King’s College London. Having done some internal university training in the area, Sylvine is looking for accredited training in the form of the PRINCE2 project management course. In the grant application, Sylvine demonstrated a passion for clinical trials management and the BSI is very happy to support Sylvine in undertaking this globally-recognised qualification.
Dr Bruce MacLachlan, Cardiff University (he/him)
Bruce is a postdoc at Cardiff University assessing antigen recognition by considering the full context of the complete immune synapse between T cells and antigen-presenting cells. Bruce is looking to generate pilot data to explore this research area further and to generate data for future fellowship applications and larger equipment bids. The BSI is very pleased to support Bruce with this project which will also build skills and create new collaborative links.
John is a postdoc studying the role of salivary gland (SG) macrophages in tissue regeneration following radiotherapy. In order to advance this research further, John would like to learn new skills and different techniques by visiting the Bajenoff lab in Marseilles, France to use high-powered microscopy and a range of reporter/KO mice to characterise the macrophage niche in the SG in healthy tissue and following irradiation to determine if CSF1 mediates macrophage-stromal cell crosstalk. The BSI is delighted to support this activity as it will allow John to upskill and advance the research project and enable applications for further fellowships in the future.
Dr Damian Perez Mazliah, University of York (he/him)
Damian is an early career researcher working to establish his first independent research programme. He is studying the development of pathogen-specific and autoreactive heart-specific B cells during Trypanosoma cruzi infection (Chagas disease) and their role in protection and pathology. The BSI Career Enhancing Grant has provided him with timely support to conduct valuable single-cell RNA sequencing proof-of-concept experiments and complete the foundation he requires to apply for larger extramural research fellowships. The BSI is very happy to aid to Damian's endeavour to become fully established and independent and to continue working on the research questions that he is most passionate about.
Dr Mariolina Salio, University of Oxford (she/her)
A Clinical Research Fellow at the MRC Human Immunology Unit at Oxford, Mariolina has been a senior member of the former director’s research group for several years and is now looking to transition to independence. In order to build her own group, Mariolina is looking to undertake training in leadership for group leaders. This will be the EMBO Leadership course in Heidelberg in Germany. This four-day course will cover key aspects of leadership including values, scientific environment, research integrity, communication and feedback, team dynamics, motivation and conflict resolution. This highly-regarded course has been attended by many senior leaders at Oxford and the BSI is very pleased to support Mariolina in attending this.
This is the full list of those awarded funding in this first round of the BSI Career Enhancing Grants:
Dr Delphine Depierreux, University of Cambridge – EntrepriseTech course
Dr Lucy Garner, University of Oxford – Biostatistics training at the University of Washington
Mikolaj Kocikowski, University of Edinburgh – Molecular modeling techniques for computational screening of canine anti-cancer antibody candidates
Sylvine Lalnunhlimi, King's College London – PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner, project manager course, University of Westminster
Dr Ben Lindsey, University of Sheffield – Skills development visit to Harvard Stem Cell Institute to support Wellcome Trust PhD Fellowship application
Dr Bruce MacLachlan, Cardiff University – Deciphering the low-avidity CD4+ T cell response to tumour-derived antigens using cell-cell avidity measurements
Veronika Matei-Rascu, University of Birmingham – Interrogating cellular heterogeneity and transcriptomic changes within tumour-egressing immune cells
Dr John McKendrick, University of Edinburgh – Seeing is believing: characterising macrophage-stromal cell networks in salivary gland injury
Dr Shona Moore, University of Liverpool – Functionality of HLA-E restricted CD8+ T cells in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and in mild and severe disease
Dr Damian Perez Mazliah, Hull/York Medical School – Studying pathogen-specific and autoreactive B cells side-by-side with single-cell RNA sequencing
Dr Edoardo Prediletto, Queen Mary, University of London – The interconnection between the Epstein Barr Virus and STING in a unique lymphoblastoid cell line derived from naturally infected rheumatoid arthritis
Dr Pranvera Sadiku, University of Edinburgh – Dissecting the mechanism by which lipid metabolism dictates neutrophil survival and function in health and disease
Dr Mariolina Salio, University of Oxford – Leadership for group leaders
Katie Smith, University of Edinburgh – How neutrophil mediators influence neutrophil function during inflammatory disease
Dr Rachel Tanner, University of Oxford – Characterisation of non-specific antibody responses induced by BCG vaccination and M.tb infection
Dr Elisabeth van der Heijden, University of Edinburgh – If "TB or not TB" is the question - are microRNAs the answer? A pilot study
Dr Natasha Whibley, University of Oxford – The role of nutrient metabolism in the control of Th2 cell responses in the intestine
Thank you to everyone who submitted an application. This scheme is very competitive and unfortunately, we are limited with the number of activities that we can support.
We would also like to thank the judging panel, led by BSI Education & Careers Secretary, Dr Donald Palmer, for their hard work and dedication that made this possible. We are proud to support our members to achieve the full potential of a highly fulfilling career in immunology through our extensive career development offering.