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New director appointed at the MRC HIU

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Professor Alison Simmons - the new director at MRC HIU

The Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit (MRC HIU) has appointed a new director.

The MRC HIU at the University of Oxford aims to further our understanding of how the immune system functions to develop better treatment strategies against infectious diseases, cancer, allergy and autoimmune diseases.

The unit’s research spans basic to translational immunology focussed on the development of experimental medicine programmes.

Professor Alison Simmons joined the MRC HIU in 2007 as a group leader. The Simmons group investigates how the immune system functions in the intestine in health, infections and inflammation. This aims to achieve improved health outcomes for patients with IBD.

Alongside this role, she is also an honorary consultant gastroenterologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

Simmons said: “The MRC HIU has a long and auspicious history of fundamental immune breakthroughs, pioneering the field of human immunology and extending discovery across a wide range of human immune and infectious diseases.

“Recently, state of the art technological advances has led to description of immune pathogenesis in human tissues in unprecedented depth.

“This opens whole new possibilities to harness the immune system for health and in the HIU we hope to bridge that gap over the coming years.

“Our unique grouping of clinical, basic science and computational expertise will enable us to tackle these problems to drive innovation.”

Professor Fiona Watt, executive chair of the MRC, added: “I am very pleased that Alison Simmons has been appointed director of the MRC Human Immunology Unit. She is an eminent clinician scientist and her work on intestinal immunity is world leading.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, as never before, the importance of understanding the human immune system, and Alison is well placed to lead the unit to achieve great things in the coming years.”

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