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Director appointed for inflammation research centre

08 Feb 2012

The University of Manchester, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AstraZeneca have appointed Professor Tracy Hussell as Director of the new Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR).

The MCCIR is a unique collaboration announced in May last year to establish a world-leading translational centre for inflammatory diseases with an initial investment of £5 million from each partner over a three year period.

Professor Hussell is currently Professor of Inflammatory Disease at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London where she has developed a vibrant research group studying immunity, pathology and vaccination in influenza virus infection with a special interest in the secondary bacterial complications that can ensue.

Professor Hussell’s research has identified novel strategies to alleviate inflammatory disorders. Her group has pioneered the concept of, and is still working on, how one inflammatory condition modulates the severity of the next. Importantly, she has identified that the activation of an immune response changes depending on which organ of the body it is in. Understanding tissue specific regulation of immunity reveals novel methods to treat inflammatory disorders.

Professor Hussell said: “This new centre provides a unique opportunity, working not only with the academic and medical resources of Manchester University, but also with pharmaceutical industry. I am very proud to have been chosen to lead the centre and, naturally, I am hugely excited by the prospect of guiding it into a world leading institution for translational research and innovation”.

The MCCIR collaboration between two UK-based pharmaceutical companies, GSK and AstraZeneca, and The University of Manchester, a premier research-led institution, will bring together scientists from both the pharmaceutical industry and academia to work collaboratively on inflammation research and translational medicine.

Speaking of the new appointment, Professor Ian Jacobs, University Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences and Chair of the MCCIR Board said: “I am delighted that we have appointed a scientist of Tracy’s quality and reputation to direct MCCIR. This is a unique venture that will link with areas of strength in cancer, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease and human development across The University of Manchester and Manchester Academic Health Science Centre. Tracy’s recruitment is a key step in a series of initiatives and appointments which will ensure that MCCIR has an international impact.”

Professor Martin Humphries, University Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences, added: “The MCCIR is a unique collaboration between AstraZeneca, GSK and the University that aims to deliver ground-breaking basic and translational research in inflammation and inflammatory disease. The initiative therefore requires someone with Tracy’s track record, vision and drive to succeed, and I am delighted that she has agreed to join us to lead the Centre.”  

MCCIR Board Member Roberto Solari, from GSK, said: “This partnership between the University, AstraZeneca and GSK is a truly groundbreaking initiative and we are all tremendously excited about Tracy’s appointment as director.  We are confident that under her leadership the MCCIR will become an international centre of excellence that will deliver real innovation and ultimately bring benefit to patients.”

Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice President of Innovative Medicines at AstraZeneca, added: "AstraZeneca recognises the importance of this collaboration with the University and GSK as we need to work and think differently if we are to solve challenging scientific and medical problems underlying inflammatory disease. Tracy’s appointment and her leadership of the MCCIR will enhance our efforts to speed the search for innovative new medicines that could help millions of people."

Professor Hussell is a principal investigator in the Medical Research Council/Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, and in the Centre for Respiratory Infection. She is also a member of the research committee for Asthma UK and has contributed significantly to British Immunology as Secretary for the Clinical Immunology and Allergy Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and as the Education Secretary and a Trustee of the British Society for Immunology.