Immunity, Infection and Inflammation

Professor Ken Smith

Ken SmithTranslational research in the broad areas of immunity and infectious disease is bringing huge health benefits to society and has contributed enormously to the quality of life we enjoy today. Our understanding of the immune system and how it works has improved remarkably over recent decades, with international efforts to eradicate disease through research, collaboration and exchange of information enabling key scientific breakthroughs.

For example, the successful development of vaccines means that several infectious diseases including smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, tuberculosis and polio are no longer a threat in Europe.

Our Cambridge BRC Immunity, Infection & Inflammation theme involves groups of researchers that are housed across the Addenbrooke's campus in a number of different departments and institutes. We have brought this thematic group together to promote patient-based research, and, in so doing, have demonstrated that the breadth and depth of research in this area is much greater than had been previously realised, as evidenced by our external grant income and relative productivity.

The Immunity, Infection & Inflammation theme supports translational research in three ways:

•             By funding a coordinator who supports the Cambridge Immunology Network in order to promote increased interaction within the theme across the campus. This initiative provides a web focus for the Cambridge Immunology community, arranges a seminar series, has industrial partners (Roche; GSK; Genzyme; MedImmune) to promote translation, and organises postdoctoral fellow and student immunology events.

•             The Immunity, Infection & Inflammation theme has established a Cell Phenotyping Hub, situated centrally on E6 to allow the rapid processing of unscreened patient samples, and liaising closely with the CIMR. The Cambridge BRC provides capital support for this campus-wide core facility. The major focus of the Immunity and Infection theme is to carefully target resources to translational programmes in areas where traditional grant funding is difficult to obtain, or where pump-priming is necessary. This has resulted in a number of publications, patents and changes to clinical practice.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the vital contribution made by Cambridge BioResource which continues to help recruit public volunteers that are so central to our work.

Professor Ken Smith
September 2014