£3.2m grant awarded to fund Strep A research supporting vaccine development

Research Fellow Dr Claire Turner has received a £3.2m Wellcome Trust grant for research into Strep A.

Strep A
Strep A

Research Fellow Dr Claire Turner, from the School of Biosciences, has been awarded a £3.2m Wellcome Trust grant to continue her research into Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Strep A.

The prestigious award will fund Dr Turner's research into the bacteria for eight years. Strep A causes tonsillitis and scarlet fever but can also cause skin infections which are particularly common in African countries like The Gambia. 

Dr Turner said: “We urgently need a vaccine to prevent Strep A infection but we do not currently know enough about how the bacteria causes human infection in the tonsil and on the skin. 

“I will be using novel 3D tissue engineered models of human tonsil and skin infection to study exactly how Strep A interacts with human cells and if this differs by human cell type and bacterial strain. Some strains of Strep A have preferences for causing either a throat infection or a skin infection and I aim to find out why and how this occurs. My work should lead to the identification of new vaccine targets.” 

Dr Turner will collaborate with several University of Sheffield colleagues including Professor Craig Murdoch and Dr Joey Shepherd from Clinical Dentistry, Dr Vanessa Hearden from Tissue Engineering and Professor Thushan de Silva and Dr Simon Johnston from the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease (IICD).

She will also work with Dr Abdul Sessay from The MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM as well as other partners from the The MRC Unit The Gambia Strep A working group.

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