Scientific Excellence rewarded at WIMM Day

Ita Askonas Prize Winner
Mike receiving his award

Congratulations to all our prize winners at this year’s WIMM Day. We were delighted to award Mike Barnkob, a DPhil student with Prof Vincenzo Cerundolo in the MRC Human Immunology Unit, the Ita Askonas Medal and Prize for his work on T cells in the tumour microenvironment. The Ita Askonas Prize is awarded annually to a DPhil student in their third year. Mike’s talk, ‘Inhibiting T cell Movement: A Novel Cancer Immune Escape Mechanism’ detailed his DPhil work on a protein that tumours release to block T cell movement, allowing cancer cells to escape immune destruction.

We were also pleased to award Prof Alain Townsend the Sir Andrew McMichael Medal – a new award to celebrate excellence in DPhil supervision and mentorship. The WIMM has a long history of training and nurturing the next generation of scientists and science-associated professionals. This started under the leadership of Prof Sir David Weatherall, and continued under Prof Sir Andrew McMichael and currently Prof Doug Higgs. The award is named after Prof Sir Andrew McMichael, who in 2006 received the Nature Lifetime Achievement Award for mentoring in science.

We asked students to nominate supervisors they thought were exceptional mentors. We received several outstanding nominations for the award, and the panel (consisting of student reps and representatives of the WIMM Graduate Studies Committee) had the very difficult task of deciding on the winner.

Due to the high quality of the nominations, the panel also made two commendations for the McMichael Medal. These are, in no specific order, Jan Rehwinkel and Hal Drakesmith.

As always, our poster session was full of exciting new science and interesting discussion. Congratulations to the following researchers who won poster prizes:

Poster Prize Winner
Jill Brown receiving her first place poster prize

First Prize – Jill Brown (Buckle lab) “Fine scale three dimensional re-organisation of the murine α-globin chromatin domain during erythroid differentiation”

Second Prize – Danuta Gutowska-Owsiak (Ogg lab) “Coordinated release of filaggrin from actin cages precipitates keratinocyte death during epidermal barrier formation”

Third Prize – Jamie Langton (Niedzwiedz lab) “Resolving traffic jams on the DNA highway”