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Immunology

Tackling today’s global disease challenges

We have extensive immunology and inflammation experience at The University of Manchester. For the first time, this is being drawn together into a new, multidisciplinary research institute – The Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation.

The Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation

The Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation is home to internationally renowned immunology and inflammation expertise in a vast array of basic and applied disciplines. We perform fundamental and translational exploratory science, applying the latest technologies to address the key new concepts in health and many areas of clinical unmet need. The great breadth and diversity of research in our institute emphasises how immunology plays an ever-increasing role in modern medicine.

Lydia Becker

The Institute is named after Manchester-born Lydia Ernestine Becker. Though better known for her pioneering work in the field of women's suffrage, she was also a celebrated natural scientist who conversed with Charles Darwin. She strongly believed that women were intellectually equal to men and deserved the same opportunities.

Whipworm (Thichuris trichiura): Microscopic cross section of a whipworm, a parasitic helminthic nematode (roundworm) with eggs. Specimen was obtained from the cecum of a patient during colonoscopy.
 

World-leading research

Our immune system is at the heart of a vast array of different diseases. The Institute draws together internationally renowned basic and clinical expertise.

By housing creative excellence across scientific and clinical disciplines, we remove traditional boundaries to find solutions for today’s global disease challenges.

Our basic scientists and clinicians are developing an understanding of immunological and inflammatory processes in order to improve clinical treatments for patients.

Grant success

  • Significant Wellcome Trust funding from Investigator, Senior and Intermediate Basic Research Fellow schemes.
  • We have a powerful cohort of early career fellows including five current holders of a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowship award.
  • Our clinicians hold prestigious personal awards from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and medical charities including Arthritis Research UK.
  • Over a quarter of the research funding awarded to Institute members comes from the research councils, and a fifth from the Wellcome Trust.

Publication power

Academic peer-reviewed publications in immunology:

  • The University of Manchester is 6th nationally (2012-2017 data);
  • Citations per publication and field weighted citations places us 2nd nationally;
  • Top 10 nationally for inflammation and immunology.

Major research activities

Barrier immunology

The University has a critical mass of academics researching health and disease at barrier surfaces. Our research covers lung, gastrointestinal, skin, and oral cavity immunology.

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Cancer immunology

Cancer immunology is revolutionising the treatment of cancer. Our basic researchers and medical oncologists are expanding our knowledge of the power of the immune system in fighting disease.

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Cardiovascular and obesity immunology

Inflammation is a commonly recognised feature of obesity-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer, yet it is relatively unexplored.

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Cellular immunology

Our internationally leading experts are studying the ways different immune cells work together to detect and deal with pathogens including bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites, and in cancer.

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Immune tolerance

We are increasing the understanding of how a breakdown of immune tolerance results in debilitating inflammatory disease, and translating scientific discoveries into the clinic to improve the management of these conditions.

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Immuno-matrix

Our research is delivering new insights into the interconnectivity between matrix and immune function, with major implications for treatment of chronic diseases and understanding host–pathogen interactions.

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Pathogens, parasites and commensals

Our research unites academic and clinical efforts in a portfolio of world-class infectious diseases research. Our research is responsive to the impacts of local and global infectious disease trends.

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Neuro-immunology

Our strengths in immunology and neurology combine to perform fundamental and applied research into mental health, Alzheimer’s, dementia, epilepsy, stroke, and how neuroimmune interactions maintain health.

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Life course immunology

Half of all paediatric hospital admissions are due to infectious disease. Our academics are working with paediatricians and nurses to unravel childhood immunity and tailor treatments to this age group.

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Featured research case studies

The Institute unites basic, translational and clinical immunology and drives research into novel areas of clinical unmet need including neuro, cardiovascular, obesity, paediatric, barrier and comorbidity immunology.

Neuroinflammation in stroke

Brain attack: determining the role of neuroinflammation in stroke

Driven by basic science at the University and clinical academics at Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust, we aim to understand the impact of systemic and local inflammation on progression and outcome of acute cerebrovascular disease such as ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke.

We have unique opportunities to make new insights into disease processes and to develop new therapies.

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How immune cells talk to each other

Discovering how immune cells are able to talk to each other

An emerging hypothesis is that immune responses are regulated, in part, by miniscule nanometre-scale changes to the organisation of immune cell surfaces.

We are now testing how these changes in cell surfaces impact thresholds at which immune responses are switched on or off.

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The immune response to respiratory disease

Mapping the lungs: understanding the immune response to respiratory disease

One area of intense immunological discovery is in the lung. We are able to test many explorative hypotheses on the same patient, and by merging the results from multiple investigations we provide a personalised map of the patients’ disease that will feed into the development of a stratified medical approach.   

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Skin cells and the immune system

On the surface: understanding the interactions between skin cells and the immune system

We are investigating how the immune system interacts with skin cells to maintain tissue homeostasis, induce immune responses, or cause skin disease.

We have a unique opportunity to understand disease mechanisms and develop new therapeutic entities.

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Tissue remodelling after lung infection and injury

Rebuilding the lungs: investigating how respiratory tissue is remodelled after lung infection and injury

We use models of lung-migrating helminth infection and allergic asthma to understand how repair and tissue remodelling occurs in the lungs following infection and injury.

The underlying mechanisms we discover will have relevance to both healthy lung repair and regeneration, and to many common but severe chronic diseases of the lung such as asthma and COPD.

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Resistance to immunotherapy in cancer

Understanding mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy in head and neck/salivary gland cancer

We are analysing the tumour and immune components within blood and tumour samples to understand the biology of anti-tumour immunity and develop newer and better cancer therapies.

The research seeks to identify mechanisms of response and resistance to immunotherapies and to use deep immune phenotyping to identify signatures which can be used to personalise current treatments.

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Cross-section of human lung tissue showing bronchiole and alveoli, histology, micrograph, photo under microscope
 

Featured researchers

Professor Judi Allen

Professor of Immunobiology

judi allen

Judi Allen’s laboratory investigates the host immune response to parasite infection with a particular focus on type 2 immunity; the response mammals characteristically make to large multicellular parasites (helminths). A major research theme of the lab has been to investigate the function of macrophages activated by type 2 cytokines and their role in anti-helminth immunity.

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Dr Elaine Bignell

Reader in Applied Mycology

elaine bignell

Elaine Bignell is the Deputy Director of the Manchester Fungal Infection Group, a multi-million pound venture funded by the University in 2013 to strengthen understanding of fungal infection biology. She has accrued a theoretical and practical working knowledge of whole animal infection modelling, epithelial and macrophage infection assays, fungal classical and molecular genetics, analysis of protein-protein interactions in living fungal cells and whole genome transcriptomics analyses.

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Professor Dan Davis

Professor of Immunology

dan davis

Dan Davis is the Director of Research in the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research. He pioneered the use of many imaging techniques to help visualise key molecular components of an immune response. His work has helped establish new concepts in how immune cells communicate with each other, especially the immune synapse and membrane nanotubes.

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Professor Tracy Hussell

Professor of Inflammatory Disease

tracy hussell

Tracy Hussell is the Centre Director at the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research. The Hussell lab studies immune health and its deregulation in the lung. The group has internationally competitive research in a number of areas, including immunological homeostasis and how it is maintained in the respiratory tract, and the consequences of altered homeostasis following resolution of acute inflammation or during allergy.

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Training future scientists and clinicians

The Institute will draw together undergraduate, postgraduate and clinical teaching in immunology. It will provide a sense of belonging and continuity to those studying in this area.

Our research programmes enable students to undertake a research project that will further improve their understanding of immunology.

We also provide a framework of postgraduate research training in research council funded doctoral training partnerships.

 

 

Partnerships with impact

Health Innovation Manchester

Our domain is closely aligned to the inflammation and repair domain of Health Innovation Manchester (formerly MAHSC). We are working in collaboration to improve the treatment, management and care of patients with inflammatory disease.

We have formed close partnerships with the University Hospital of South Manchester, Salford Royal and Manchester Royal Infirmary. This will ensure collaborative research on well-characterised patient cohorts and take discoveries from the laboratory bench to the bedside – and vice versa.

Find out more about the Health Innovation Manchester inflammation and repair domain.