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Malaghan and National Institutes of Health research receives prestigious award

5 March 2024

Malaghan Research Fellow Dr Kerry Hilligan has been awarded the 2023 CIG William E. Paul Award for Best Paper in Cytokine Research.

The award is made in recognition of published research contributing to our understanding of cytokines – immune-signalling molecules that make up the backbone of immune responses. The paper, published in Nature Communications in December 2023, demonstrated that bacterial infection of the lung can protect against Covid-19 infection in mice.

Named in honour of one of the most influential scientists in the field of immunology Professor William E Paul, the award also shares a special connection with the Malaghan Institute, with Professor Paul a mentor to the Institute’s director, Professor Graham Le Gros.

“To be awarded the William (Bill) Paul award is an incredible acknowledgement of Kerry and her scientific discoveries,” says Prof Le Gros.

“Bill Paul is internationally acknowledged as one of the founders of our modern immunological understanding that is leading to so many amazing breakthroughs in health today. The award is given to those whose work continues that legacy. We are most proud that our homegrown New Zealand immunologist Kerry has been recognised in this way.”

Dr Hilligan completed this research alongside her collaborators at the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC where she spent several years working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr Alan Sher’s Laboratory. Dr Hilligan has since returned to the Malaghan, where she is now a Team Leader in the Le Gros Laboratory.

“I felt incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to perform this research with a great team of scientists,” says Dr Hilligan. “It is particularly special for me because of the connection Bill Paul has to Graham Le Gros.”