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Infection and Immunity Group: tackling global pathogens

The BSI Infection and Immunity Affinity Group (IIAG) aims to highlight research in the area of immune responses to infectious diseases. Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria, kill more people worldwide than any other cause, and emerging infectious pathogens such as Ebola and Zika viruses represent serious public health concerns. Although the immune system is effective in protecting us against infection most of the time, some pathogens are able to manipulate the immune response to survive and cause serious disease. When this happens, the immune response is unable to protect and can be responsible for the morbidity and pathology associated with both acute (sepsis) and chronic infection. Therefore, research into understanding how these pathogens cause disease and survive by evading the immune response, and how the immune system reacts to protect against these infections, is critical for development of effective strategies to treat and diagnose these diseases, particularly in the context of multidrug resistance and emerging infectious diseases.

For this reason, infection and immunity (I&I) research is an expanding, reactive and exciting field both in the UK and worldwide and covers a wide range of research including investigating host–pathogen interactions during infection, microbial pathogenicity, biomarkers of infectious diseases and sepsis, and the development of immunotherapies and diagnostics for infectious diseases. The primary aim of the IIAG is to provide a forum for disseminating research in the I&I field, and to stimulate collaborations and sharing of information. In order to do this, we have organised annual one-day meetings over the past few years, with high quality speakers covering a range of topics, including ‘Immune responses to infection and inflammation’ and ‘Immunotherapy for infectious diseases’, and organising sessions at BSI congress on topics such as ‘Pathogen evasion of immune responses’ and ‘Biomarkers of sepsis’.

Infection and immunity research is an expanding, reactive and exciting field both in the UK and worldwide and covers a wide range of research

We work closely with other BSI groups with overlapping interests and have organised some very interesting joint meetings with the Vaccine Affinity Group and the Maths Modelling Affinity Group. With full support from the BSI we are also keen to work with other societies whose remit overlaps with the I&I area, and as part of this, we are organising a joint meeting the British Association for Lung Research in July 2016 on ‘Host–pathogen interactions in the lung’…watch this space for further details!

We are committed to disseminating research, meetings and funding opportunities in the field to as wide an audience as possible and have set up a twitter feed (@InfimmAg), which has a growing number of followers. In future, the group would also like to get further involved in public engagement activities; so, if you have ideas for meetings or public engagement activities or would like to get involved with the group please email us via our contact details on the website.

IIAG committee

Dr Caroline Rowland, Dstl

Dr Riccardo D’Elia, Dstl

Dr Tom Laws, Dstl

Dr Di Williamson, Dstl
Dr Andrew Williams, UCL
Prof. Eric Blair, University of Leeds
Dr Mark Travis, The University of Manchester
Dr Andy Stagg, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

You can visit the Infection and Immunity Group page on our website and follow them on twitter @Infimmag.