A group of researchers, including a professor at the Royal Free Hospital, has been awarded £2.42 million to establish a new training network for immunologists.

Professor Lucy Walker, who works at the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital, is the deputy coordinator of the network and will work alongside the coordinator, Professor Jochen Hühn from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig.

The network, known as the ENLIGHT-TEN programme, will provide training for young researchers in T cell (a type of immune cell) immunology and big data analysis.

The immune system is characterised by highly complex processes that are controlled, to a large extent, by T cells, which act as the "conductors of the immune system". They play a central role in many diseases including autoimmune diseases, chronic infections and cancer, and are therefore key targets for new therapies. However, the development of new treatments requires a comprehensive and detailed understanding of T cells. This knowledge can be obtained only through technologies that generate huge amounts of data. Specialist expertise in the area of bio-informatics (computer generated biological information) is required in order to analyse this data.

Professor Walker said: "Our aim is to train a new generation of young scientists who have an in-depth understanding of T cell immunology and are also comfortable with the processing and interpretation of large data sets. We think that integrating these different skill sets is going to be critical in allowing the researchers to take full advantage of rapidly emerging technologies."

The ENLIGHT-TEN network offers 13 doctoral scholarships to highly motivated junior researchers. A total of 16 partners from eight European countries will contribute to the project by integrating young scientists into their research groups. The project establishes a cross-European network with strengths in cellular immunology and bio-informatics and encompasses partners from both academic and industry settings. For further information about the network and the partners in the consortium, please visit the website www.enlight-ten.eu.


Image: Professor Lucy Walker

Notes to editors

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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver and kidney transplantation, haemophilia, renal care, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, Parkinson's disease, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

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