Infection and Immunity research theme raises online profile
16 February 2010
The University has launched a new Infection and Immunity (I&I) research theme website.
Activity in the I&I research theme is being guided by a newly formed task force comprised of a representative from each of the main groups within the theme. Expertise in this multidisciplinary theme spans medicine, veterinary sciences, biology, social sciences and mathematics, and draws together diverse groups of investigators from eight departments, four faculties and other specialist research groups including the Bristol Microbiology Forum. In doing so, the theme both encourages collaboration between disparate disciplines and bridges physical gaps between groups located in different buildings and at different University sites. Collaborators outside of the University include the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which is represented on the I&I task force.
Currently the main areas of research activity are:
- autoimmunity and inflammation
- emerging and chronic viral diseases
- microbial pathogenesis and antimicrobial resistance
- mucosal and vaccine immunology
The I&I research theme is truly translational, with research targeted at improving the health of both humans and domestic animals. Recent highlights include:
- studies comparing piglets reared under different hygiene conditions, which have highlighted the importance of gut bacteria in immune development. It is suggested that these results may provide an insight into why certain individuals (both piglets and human infants) are more susceptible to infections and allergic conditions in later life;
- a swine flu vaccine trail in children. This study is just one example of up to 40 clinical trials running at any one time and facilitated by the Bristol Research in Infection and Immunity Collaboration (BRIIC), a thriving clinical and translational research community involving investigators from the University of Bristol, the University of the West of England, the HPA and local acute and primary care NHS Trusts;
- new ways of manipulating a type of fungus that could lead to the development of new antibiotic treatments for humans.
New projects include the establishment of a BRIIC Tissue Bank to provide human samples for translational I&I studies, thanks to funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Western Comprehensive Local Research Network. The network aims to provide a collaborative platform between academics, the NHS and the HPA to support translational I&I projects in Bristol and in collaboration with other centres.
Infection and Immunity research at Bristol has resulted in several successful spin-out companies, including Azellon, Apitope and KWS BioTest.