Michelle Linterman receives Lister Prize

Dr Michelle Linterman, 2019 Lister Prize Fellow

Dr Michelle Linterman, a group leader in the Babraham Institute’s Immunology research programme, has received a prestigious Lister Institute Research Prize Fellowship.

The award, made by the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine, provides £250,000 in funding to support researchers who are in the early stages of running their own research group and aims to ensure that prize recipients have freedom to develop independent research careers. Prize Fellows also join the community of Lister Fellows, offering access to prominent immunology researchers from across the UK. The Prize is awarded annually after a competitive application process and five researchers have been named as 2019 Prize Fellows.
Michelle joined the Institute in 2013 as a tenure-track group leader. Michelle’s lab investigates the immune response to vaccination and infection, with a focus on the germinal centre response, where lifelong antibody-mediated immunity is generated. Because of the long-lasting nature of this immunity, it forms the basis of protection provided by vaccination. Therefore, the germinal centre response is a rational therapeutic target in situations where vaccine efficacy is poor, such as in older persons.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to receive a Lister Prize”, said Michelle following her notification of the award. “The award will allow to me fund an emerging area of research in my lab and provides flexible funding at a critical point in my career. I’m also looking forward to joining the community of Lister Fellows and the collaborative opportunities this will offer.” 
The research supported by the award will build on research published earlier this year in the Journal of Experimental Medicine on how non-immune tissue is remodelled by infection. The research uncovered how lung tissue in mice is remodelled (into specialised immune structures called germinal centres) to support an immune response to influenza. Very little is known about the formation and function of germinal centres in the lungs after infection. Understanding how they are formed and their role in protective immunity may support the development of vaccines that provide broader protection, for example in the development of novel influenza vaccinations that provide cross-strain protection.
Institute Director, Professor Michael Wakelam, said: “On behalf of the Institute community, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Michelle on this well-deserved award. Michelle has already established herself as a significant presence in her research field and the Lister Prize will be hugely beneficial in allowing Michelle to expand her networks while following some exciting research leads.”
Michelle has a degree in biomedical science from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Following this, she completed a PhD with Professor Carola Vinuesa at the Australian National University on the germinal centre response in autoimmunity. After this, she joined the group of Professor Ken Smith, himself a Lister Fellow, as a postdoc at the University of Cambridge. Michelle has been a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, since 2010.
Michelle joins a developing community of Institute-based Lister Fellows. Previous recipients are Professor Wolf Reik (1987) and Professor Phill Hawkins (1988), both of whom subsequently became Fellows of the Royal Society. Dr Rahul Roychoudhuri, also a group leader in the Immunology programme, received a Lister Prize in 2017.

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The Institute is an independent charitable life sciences research institute, strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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