The BSI Career Enhancing Grants 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 second round of the BSI Career Enhancing Grant scheme, we received a large number of applications of very high-quality and we are delighted to have awarded 19 grants to BSI members, amounting to a total of £69,317. 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.
This is the full list of those awarded funding in this round of the BSI Career Enhancing Grants:
Oliver Ashton, Queen's University Belfast – Training course on programming for biologists and machine learning
Dr Matthew Burgess, University of Edinburgh – Role of mast cells in early life RSV infection: Preliminary data generation
Dr Joseph Chi-Fung Ng, King's College London – Assessing the effects of framework mutations on antibody function using trastuzumab as a case study
Dr Sally Clayton, University of Birmingham – Unpicking the regulation of macrophage mitochondrial function in inflammation at the single cell level
Dr William Foster, Babraham Institute – Specialist training for ultrahigh content microscopy on the MACSima™ Imaging Platform
Dr Ester Gea-Mallorqui, University of Oxford – Exploring the HIV-2 immunological landscape
Sofia Hain Porter, University of Birmingham – Scoping out myeloid populations in the fungal-infected brain
Dr Harry Horsnell, University College London – 15th ENII Summer School on Advanced Immunology
Francis Hughes, National Health Service – Clinical Immunology placement in Cape Town University Hospital
Dr Ruth Jones, Cardiff University – Secondment to the Alzheimer's Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute
Dr Anna Karagiani, University of Edinburgh – Applying novel -omic approaches to investigate equine airway immunity
Rachael Kee, Queen's University Belfast – Investigating immune cell profiles of tertiary lymphoid structures in multiple sclerosis
Ana Kisovar, University of Oxford – Defining the immunomodulatory role of eutopic endometrial CD8+ T cells in endometriosisassociated subfertility
Lucia Labeur-Iurman, Imperial College London – Training in the application of next generation techniques and their use in dissecting T follicular helper cell differentiation in vivo
Justyna Lopatecka, University of Plymouth – Training at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) to support further studies with newly developed models of alveolar macrophages and respiratory viruses
Dr Daniel O' Connor, University of Oxford – Laboratory Leadership for Group Leaders by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
Paschalia Pantazi, Imperial College London – MicroRNA loading of monocyte-derived extracellular vesicles
Stephanie Schlichtner, Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Kent and Greenwich – Mechanism of T cell exhaustion induced by L-kynurenine in tumour microenvironment
Dr Sarah Spear, Imperial College London – Identification of age-related defects in tissue resident macrophages in ovarian cancer
Below are a few sample case studies from awardees from this round of the BSI Career Enhancing Grants. Read on to find out more about the projects and activities being funded.
Dr Ruth Jones, Cardiff University (she/her, he/ei)
This project will utilise the expertise of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Institute (ARUK DDI) at University College London to investigate Abi3, a gene highly expressed in microglia and with a known Alzheimer’s disease risk variant.
Ruth's placement at this institute will allow her to quantify Abi3 expression in microglia and assess the function of microglia treated with compounds reported to modulate Abi3 or another component of the pathway. She plans to apply what she will learn about this experimental model and the semi-automation of functional assays to the work being carried out on microglia lacking Abi3 or expressing the Abi3 Alzheimer’s disease risk variant in her group in the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University.
Through this placement Ruth will gain practical skills and experience that will improve her employability. She will also benefit from working alongside staff with varied career backgrounds providing her with invaluable insight into careers in both academia and industry.
Dr Harry Horsnell, University College London (he/him)
Having just finished his PhD in cell and molecular biology researching the role of mechanical forces in lymph node expansion, Harry wanted to broaden his knowledge in the field of immunology to support his next career move. This was because he was writing postdoctoral fellowship research projects that focused on core immunology concepts compared to his PhD training, therefore, he needed to attend an intensive course on immunology. Using the BSI Career Enhancing Grant he was able to attend the European Network of Immunology Institutes (ENII) 2022 Summer School.
The ENII school was an intensive seven-day course which included lectures from world-leading immunologists, followed by tutorials and short talks/poster presentation by all early career attendants. Core concepts in both innate and adaptive immunology were covered in a range of contexts from cancer to parasite infection. Furthermore, two stand-out lectures by Dr Philippe Bousso and Prof Andreas Moor demonstrated and discussed new experimental strategies to dissect how immunology works in the tissue context. These themes are part of Harry's fellowship projects and have improved his experimental design and hypothesis generation. During the poster sessions he had technical discussions about conducting immunological assays with other early career researchers whom now form part of his professional network that he will cultivate as he transitions into his postdoctoral research.
Lucia Labeur-Iurman, Imperial College London (she/her)
Next generation sequencing and gene-editing technologies are revolutionising the study of immunology. With the support of the BSI Career Enhancing Grant, Lucia will spend a period of the final year of her PhD learning and applying these techniques to her thesis work exploring the regulation of humoral immunity at Professor Elina Zúñiga's lab in the University of California San Diego (UCSD).
This will not only address specific scientific questions, such as understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive T Follicular Helper (TFH) cell differentiation and germinal centre formation in viral infection, but will also enhance and future-proof her scientific career while expanding her network, to fulfill her ambition of becoming a future leader in immunological research. This proposal aims to understand how TFH formation and function are regulated in vivo while simultaneously training Lucia in next generation techniques and systems (PERTURB-Seq, CITE-Seq and Spatial Transcriptomics) where expertise is less readily available in the UK. The learnings from this grant and placement will influence her future career plans and trajectory. It provides a challenge and a different environment, which she believes will allow her to grow both as a person and as a scientist. It will also be an excellent networking opportunity which will mark Lucia's future scientific steps, particularly when considering job opportunities after her PhD training.
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."
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.