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Improving population health through education of the innate immune system

36 months
Approved budget:
Dr Kerry Hilligan
Dr Olivier Lamiable
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Emerging Researcher First Grant
Lay summary
Reduced exposure to microbial products and pathogens in early life through increased hygiene and urbanisation has been associated with increased prevalence of disorders related to immune dysfunction, including inflammatory and allergic diseases and autoimmunity. In this research, I will investigate the hypothesis that “Pathogen infection is necessary to educate innate immune cells to control infectious disease while limiting immune dysfunction”. Through studies in pre-clinical models, I aim to identify protective processes instigated by infection and characterise how they change the activity of innate immune cells. I will then use this information to develop strategies for inducing “educated responses” in a safe and robust manner without the need for exposure to potentially harmful pathogens and microbes. I propose that educated immunity can provide broad protection against infection while reducing the risk of chronic inflammatory disease.