Modulating immune responses

Modulating immune responses for patient benefit

Theme leadPaul Klenerman

Our vision

To take an innovative approach to translational medicine, by integrating multidisciplinary basic science programme with clinical research and clinical care to produce ‘lab bench-to-patient-bedside’ benefits.

Our mission

To build on Oxford’s proven capacity in basic and clinical science, clinical research and pathways to clinical care, and to apply a multidisciplinary approach that will enable innovations in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of immune-mediated diseases. Our aim is to move from the accepted management of these debilitating conditions to the cures that patients seek. Our approach will include:

  • A state-of-the-art immune phenotyping platform to aid diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of disease
  • Identifying, developing and testing novel therapeutic targets for treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Redefining disease based on molecular pathogenesis, and using this method on clinically and genetically defined patient cohorts for stratified medicine approaches
  • Harnessing the immune response to accelerate the development of novel vaccines for infectious disease and anti-tumour immunity
  • Applying novel science-led interdisciplinary and multi-professional approach to foster innovations in clinical care pathways used for inflammatory diseases

During 2017/2018 Work within this theme integrates cutting edge multi-disciplinary basic science with first rate clinical research. The close physical and intellectual collaboration between clinical and academic researchers provides an innovative, fast-paced, evolving approach to translational medicine that results in significant advances in patient treatment and care. Over the past year there has been a major focus on developing the Oxford Immunology Network, a Medical Sciences Division initiative to support immunology and infection researchers. The Immunology Network is overseen by a large, cross-Department committee and is managed by Georgina Kerr. (see in Appendix 1) It has the following strategic objectives: a) Maintain world-class immunology, infection and inflammation research at Oxford by facilitating successful funding applications which will attract and retain the best academics and clinicians; b) Foster collaborations locally, nationally and internationally and identify innovative areas of research and strategic partnerships that align with local and global aims; c) Highlight the impact of immunology, infection and inflammation research at Oxford through increased knowledge exchange and engagement with policy makers; and d) Establish efficient communication routes to facilitate the sharing of resources and expertise and to promote our achievements To work towards these objectives the Immunology Network has instigated resources to bring together the vast immunology community at Oxford. A dedicated immunology website is constantly evolving to include all research groups with an interest in immunology, and currently stands at 152 groups with additional groups regularly being added.

The Immunology Network has developed a bid with the Immunity and Infection Cluster to the NIHR OUH BRC RCF to instigate a Human Immune Discovery Initiative (HIDI). The award of £597,859.43 will support the development of HIDI, an initiative that aims to improve accessibility to immunological assays and expertise for all researchers across the University (and beyond). HIDI will act as a gateway to immunological resources by sponsoring 4 Discovery Platforms within the Medical Sciences Division. These Platforms, led by experienced researchers and include Deep immune phenotyping, Immune pathology, Genomics and metagenomics and Proteomics. Close links with OUH and OUI will allow the identification and rapid translation of research for patient benefit. Following the HIDI model, Dr Ryan, an NIHR academic clinical lecturer at the TGU, has driven the development of a Human Iron Research at Oxford (HIRO) group, alongside Profs Travis and Klenerman and with £500k financial support from Vifor. HIRO will provide funds to support a post-doctoral position to work with Dr Ryan and Prof Drakesmith, integrating the clinical and academic research strands, and will provide a network for all researchers interested in iron research. The Immunology Network has been valuable in capitalising on the recent Berlin-Oxford Initiative, a wide-ranging partnership between OxU and the four universities in Berlin. The Network participated in the inaugural Berlin-Oxford meeting at St Hugh’s College in January to identify common areas of research interest and formulate a plan for future collaborations. An outcome was a follow-up visit to Berlin by Dr Issa, Dr Hester and Professor Wood of NDS to cement two grant applications with Berlin collaborators.

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