Double celebration for marvellous medics

Two outstanding academics from the University of Sheffield's Department of Infection and Immunity have been honoured with prestigious national awards in recognition of their pioneering medical research.

Dr Sarah Walmsley and Dr Stephen Renshaw have both received highly regarded medical awards which will assist their groundbreaking and potentially lifesaving research into inflammatory and infectious diseases.Dr Sarah Walmsley

Dr Sarah Walmsley is one of only 46 people in the UK to be presented with a highly prestigious Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellowship. The £1.8 million grant will be awarded over the next five years helping Dr Walmsley and her team to progress towards their long term goal of identifying new treatment targets for patients with chronic inflammatory lung disease.

Dr Walmsley said: "The Senior Fellowship process is fiercely competitive so to be successful in obtaining an award is a great honour, but I believe it brings with it significant responsibility to deliver the planned programme of work to an internationally competitive level.

"This award not only reflects the unrivalled support provided by Professor Moira Whyte and colleagues in the Department of Infection and Immunity, but also strong collaborative links established with experts in the field of hypoxia biology in Oxford, and Leuven.

"I actually found out I had been awarded my fellowship at Frankfurt airport and was somewhat overcome by the news - nearly missing my flight home!"

Dr Walmsley has worked at the University of Sheffield since 2005 when she was appointed as a lecturer in respiratory medicine.

"As a child I was always very interested in biology and subsequently biological sciences. I didn't know I wanted to become a doctor until I went on work experience in sixth form at a local vets and realised quite quickly that I was more interested in the welfare of the animal's owners than the pets themselves. It is a real privilege to be able to undertake an academic career in medicine.

Dr Stephen Renshaw"The money from this fellowship will help us ask the question how oxygen levels can regulate neutrophil behaviour with the ultimate long term goal of identifying new treatment targets for patients with chronic inflammatory lung disease."

Sharing in Dr Walmsley's success is Dr Stephen Renshaw who has been awarded the first Medical Research Council Industry Fellowship Partnership Award to link work in his academic laboratory to drug development projects in a large industrial drugs company. Dr Renshaw secured his own Senior Clinical Fellowship in 2008, and the partnership award acts as a year extension to that award.

The award will not only allow him to continue his exciting research into new treatments for inflammatory and infectious disease, but will also help to develop his engagement with global healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline through sustained and high-level collaboration.

He said: "This award feels like a natural stepping stone for our lab. As medical researchers, we are driven by trying to discover ways to treat patients more effectively, but drug companies’ survival depends on delivering new treatments to patients and we have a huge amount to learn by working with them collaboratively.

"The award will help me to align our lab with industry and ensure that pioneering approaches – such as our revolutionary work with zebra fish – are incorporated into drug discovery programmes to identify treatments which will benefit people with a wide range of conditions.

"I have worked at the University since 1997 and it is the perfect environment for me to conduct my research. Nowhere else can provide the combination of expertise and facilities that I have access to in the Medical School and in the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics."

Additional information:

Department of Infection and Immunity
The Department of Infection and Immunity combines basic science research in molecular cell biology, with a particular focus on innate immunity in Respiratory Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Renal Medicine, Rheumatology and Dermatology. The department is based within the Medical School and the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.
Infection and Immunity

The MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics
The MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics (CDBG) brings together developmental geneticists with clinician scientists, with the aim of stimulating the translation of findings from model systems to the development of novel therapies and clinical practice.

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859