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Paediatric infectious diseases researcher awarded prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship

Dr Kirsty Le Doare has been awarded one of the first Future Leaders Fellowships by UK Research and Innovation which will provide seven years of funding and support for her projects in Africa and the UK.

Dr Kirsty Le Doare. Dr Kirsty Le Doare.

Dr Le Doare is currently based at St George's University of London and in Kampala, Uganda where she is investigating ways to improve outcomes from infection in women and their infants during pregnancy and early life. The Fellowship funding will be used to support this and to develop a platform for maternal vaccination clinical trials to prevent serious infections caused by Group-B-streptococcus and pertussis (whooping cough).

The UKRI's Future Leaders Fellowship scheme is a new initiative aiming to help the ‘rising stars' of research and innovation in the UK. As well as long-term, flexible funding, Fellowships provide translational support, including a secondment at the World Health Organisation in the third year and an Executive MBA in year 4. The Fellowships are supported by a £900 million investment fund and provide Fellows with the flexibility and time they need to make progress in their chosen fields.

Dr Le Doare said of the award: “It will be life-changing. It will enable us to build capacity hugely -   we'll be able to do so much more in Uganda and in the UK, and transfer skills across sites. And b ecause it is for seven years I will be able to spend all that time on doing my job -overseeing the project and thinking about new ideas - rather than worrying about retaining the people that are essential to keep the research going.”

She added: “T here's never really been long-term funding like this before – and especially for this crucial period of being a young researcher but not yet a professor, when so many decide to leave research. It will be amazing for women as well because this time is a critical life stage for them, whether they want to go on and have families or not. I think it will make a real difference to have this path available. ”

Dr Le Doare is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology Consultant, based within the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Research Group which is part of the Institute of Infection and Immunity at St George's, University of London. Her main research interests are age-related immune responses to infectious diseases, in particular to Group B-streptococcus, in neonates. She is interested in how maternal antibody in blood and breast milk is passed to babies and how this protects them from colonisation and disease. Her laboratory focus is on harnessing these tools of nature to improve vaccines and prevention strategies.

Dr Le Doare has a background in economics and worked for ten years for non-governmental organisations prior to undertaking her medical degree at St George's. She undertook specialist training in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology and also academic PIID training through Imperial College, London. In 2013 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust clinical research training fellowship which funded a 3 year period of clinical research based at MRC in The Gambia.

She added: “I would like to pay tribute to the support offered in my career by Professor Beate Kampmann, my previous PhD supervisor, and the Imprint network she coordinates which focuses on maternal and neonatal immunization and which I am also a part of.”

For more please see the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships pages.Professor Jon Friedland, Deputy Principal, Research and Enterprise at St George's University, said: “It is an outstanding achievement by Kirsty to win this Fellowship which will enable her to realise her goals for this exciting long-term project, building and running parallel sites in the UK and Uganda.”


Published: 07 May 2019

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