Dr Daniel Humphreys awarded Future Leaders Fellowship

Dr Daniel Humphreys, from the Department of Biomedical Science, is set to receive a portion of £78 million funding as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s Future Leaders Fellowships. The investment will enable the most promising researchers and innovators to become leaders in their fields, supporting those working at the cutting edge of the next scientific discoveries.

Dr Daniel Humphreys

Dr Humphreys will receive a £1.1 million research grant to study the disease mechanisms of the multidrug-resistant pathogen Salmonella Typhi, which causes typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever devastates communities in many low- and middle-income countries, causing around 128,000 deaths each year. The problem is exacerbated by chronic infections in humans who contaminate the food-chain and spread typhoid. Poor typhoid diagnostics restrict the ability to identify and treat typhoid patients and chronic carriers. The research grant will enable Dr Humphreys to focus on the molecular cell biology of a major virulence factor of Salmonella Typhi called the typhoid toxin.

Dr Humphreys explained: “How the toxin contributes to typhoid and chronic carriage is a mystery. We will replicate typhoid in the laboratory by infecting human cells with Salmonella, which will enable us to track the toxin using fluorescent microscopes and study how it hijacks human cell biology to cause disease. The long-term fellowship goal is to better understand the basis of typhoid and chronic carriage in patients where the disease is endemic, and uncover diagnostic biomarkers to fuel a strategy that can help break the infection cycle and combat the burden of typhoid fever.”

Dr Humphreys’ UKRI Future Leader Fellowship aims to contribute to global efforts against multidrug-resistant typhoid and improve the health and wealth of vulnerable communities in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr Humphreys said: “I’m completely over-the-moon to receive such a prestigious award. When I joined the University in 2016, I took a risk and moved my research in a new direction by studying typhoid, which is a major poverty driver affecting the world’s most vulnerable communities. The fellowship is the result of three-years of work and would not have been possible without the support of the Department of Biomedical Science and my team, Dr. Angela Ibler and Mohammed Elghazaly in particular.”

Future Leaders Fellowships are part of a £98 million investment announced by the Government, allowing both UK researchers and small businesses to seize the vast opportunities in science and innovation and industries of the future.

£78 million will be invested in 78 scientists and researchers through the government’s Future Leaders Fellowships scheme. The remaining £20 million will be allocated to 20 universities to develop new University Enterprise Zones (UEZs) across the country to provide vital specialist support to small businesses in pioneering industries – like Artificial Intelligence (AI), clean growth, smart energy and agri-food.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said: “These inspirational Future Leaders Fellows will generate the ideas of the future, helping to shape science and research for the 21st century. But to realise the full potential of these discoveries, their ideas need to be taken out of the lab and turned into real products and services, where they can actually change people’s lives for the better.

“That’s why we are creating 20 new University Enterprise Zones, helping local start-ups to co-locate in universities to build the businesses of the future – all inspired by university research.”

Professor Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation’s Chief Executive, said: “The Future Leaders Fellowships will enable the most promising researchers and innovators to become leaders in their fields, working on subjects as diverse as climate change, dementia and quantum computing.

“UKRI is committed to creating modern research and innovation careers and our Future Leaders Fellowships aim to support and retain the most talented people, including those with flexible career paths.

“These 20 University Enterprise Zones funded by Research England will be important focal points for collaboration in business-friendly environments, driving innovation and delivering benefits that will be felt across economies at the local, regional and national scale.”