Prizes for WCAIR members at School of Life Sciences Review 2019

Congratulations to all the prize winners at yesterday’s School of Life Sciences Review 2019. The prizes are awarded annually to recognise the successes of individuals and groups throughout the year.

Joana FariaThe Molecular and Cellular Biology Prize was awarded to Joana Faria from David Horn’s group. Joana received the award as he judges were particularly impressed with the exciting work on the mechanism of exclusive expression of a single active variant surface glycoprotein (VSG), which is a key requirement in antigenic variation used as an immune evasion strategy by the pathogens Plasmodium falciparum and Trypanosoma brucei. his work was preceded by earlier work on VSG exclusion 2 (Vex2), the first protein to directly activate a single allele of the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) through VSG exclusion. The work made effective use of a wide ranging combination of state of the art molecular genetic and cell biological techniques to obtain new mechanistic insights in a key immune evasion strategy.

The research has been recognised not only through the peer-reviewed papers Joana and David have published this year but also by the Infectious Diseases Hub photographic competition. Joana’s image the ‘The Vex’ed Trypanosome’ was a finalist in 2019.


Susan Davis, Mark Bell, Fiona Bellany, Mary Wheldon, Nicola Caldwell
The Medicine Maker badge: Susan Davis, Mark Bell, Fiona Bellany, Mary Wheldon, Nicola Caldwell collect the award on behalf of the team

The WCAIR team who created the Medicine Maker girl guide badge were joint winners of the Brian Cox Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research – Project of the Year.  The judges thought the idea addressed an unmet need and were particularly impressed that the team worked with local girl guide groups to co-create activities and the badge, ensuring outcomes met the teams initial aims. The panel also saw the potential for the Medicine Maker badge to become embedded in Girl Guiding across the UK (and maybe even internationally…).

Scientists from across WCAIR designed the activities and hosted an evening to launch the badge with local girl guide groups. They were guided (we love a good pun!) and supported by WCAIR Public Engagement Manger Ali Floyd.





Finally congratulations to the DDU Innovative Targets Group for winning the Best Innovation of the year. The judging panel noted, “It is often taken for granted just how innovative the DDU is and the Innovative Targets Group is a good example of this. Combining industry standards with a collaborative academic environment, they have targeted rare and orphan diseases, bringing in £10s millions to the University and enhancing our reputation world-wide. Their process approach is unique and it is this which wins them the innovator of the year.”

The Innovative Targets Group receive 'Best Innovation' prize at SLS Review 2019
The DDU Innovative Targets Group.

Read full details of all the prizes awarded in SLS News.