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Fiona Powrie wins 2012 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

24 Jan, 2012
Professor Fiona Powrie

Professor Fiona Powrie

Professor Fiona Powrie, a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator at the University of Oxford, is one of two scientists who will be awarded the 2012 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine at a ceremony in Switzerland in April. She will receive CHF 625,000 (£430,000) for her research and CHF 75,000 (£50,000) as a personal award.

Fiona wins the prize for her work on “the interactions between the bacterial intestinal flora and the immune system”. Her research looks at why the immune system does not usually attack the numerous beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and how we can improve treatment for conditions caused when the immune system gets it wrong. Inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are caused by an inappropriate immune response in the gut.

I interviewed Fiona last year and will be posting a feature on her work in the next week or so. It is fascinating research, not least because the immune system in the intestines in not quite the same as it is in the blood, which is where it is more usually studied. Immune cells and signals do different things according to where they are. As Fiona said, it’s all about location, location, location!

Fiona was one of the first people to receive a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award and she has made important contributions to immunology throughout her career. As a DPhil student in Oxford, she discovered the role of regulatory T cells in suppressing inflammation, and later she developed some of the first mouse models for inflammatory bowel disease. Today, she is Head of the Experimental Medicine Division and the Translational Gastroenterology Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, as well as being the inaugural Sidney Truelove Professor of Gastroenterology.

Many congratulations to Fiona, and to Professor Matthias Mann, a German researcher who also wins the Prize this year for his work on developing the use of mass spectrometry in proteomics.

Image credit: Wellcome Images

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