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Malaghan scientists shine at national immunology conference

22 August 2011

Last month 115 research scientists from across New Zealand converged on Wellington for the 2011 NZASI Immunology Conference. 

This year the meeting acknowledged New Zealand’s founding immunologists with new student, research technician and postdoctoral fellow speaker prizes and we are very proud to announce that Malaghan scientists took away the three top awards:

   Mr Martin Hunn – Winner of the Buck Immunology Travel Award for Best Student Oral Presentation

Martin is a Neurosurgeon at Wellington Hospital who joined the Malaghan Institute in 2009 to undertake his PhD in Dr Ian Hermans’ Vaccine Research Group.  He is investigating the therapeutic potential of using immunotherapy to treat patients with high grade glioma.

   Lindsay Ancelet
– Runner-up for the Buck Award

Lindsay is a PhD student in Dr Joanna Kirman’s Infectious Diseases Research Group, studying the immune responses that result from oral administration of the tuberculosis vaccine.  Currently the Tb vaccine is injected under the skin, but oral delivery has many advantages over this approach such as reduced cost, avoidance of needles and a reduced risk of disease transfer. 

   Fenella Rich
– Winner of the Marbrook Award for Best Research Officer Presentation

Fenella is a senior research officer in the Infectious Diseases Group, and has been collaborating with Prof Franca Ronchese’s Immune Cell Biology Group to use microbial ‘danger signals’ to boost the immune response against cancer.  Cancers work hard to evade recognition by immune cells and suppress their activity.  Fenella’s research suggests that incorporating microbial components into immunotherapy regimes will help overcome these cancer survival mechanisms and thus improve their effectiveness.

   Dr Elizabeth Forbes-Blom
– Winner of the Heslop Immunology Travel Award for Best Postdoctoral Presentation

Elizabeth is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Prof Graham Le Gros’ Asthma and Allergic Diseases Research Group, who has played a pivotal role in establishing a food allergy research programme at the Malaghan Institute.  Her research is focused on identifying the early events that take place during an allergic immune response, so that we can better understand why particular foods stimulate these effects in some individuals.