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Emerging Leaders Prize winners

Lupus scientists share £200k Emerging Leaders Prize from Medical Research Foundation

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On Wednesday 25 April, the Medical Research Foundation awards its first Emerging Leaders Prize to three outstanding lupus researchers.

We are delighted that our first Emerging Leaders Prize will boost lupus research across the UK
Angela Hind
Chief Executive

The new Emerging Leaders Prize offers flexible funding to scientists – the winners will decide how best to use the funds to support their lupus research and their research careers. 

Lupus is a serious autoimmune condition - caused when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. It is most common in young women but in rare cases can affect children.

Dr David Hunt - First Prize winner

Dr David Hunt

Dr David Hunt, first prize winner, receives £100k he says: "Brain disease in lupus is very poorly understood. I’m delighted to have won the Emerging Leaders Prize as it’s a wonderful recognition of the work my lab, clinic and colleagues are doing to help understand and tackle this important problem." 

 Dr Hunt’s work between the Medical Research Council Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine and the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic at the University of Edinburgh looks at how lupus can affect the brain at a molecular level. He runs a specialist clinic dedicated to tackling complex forms of brain inflammation, with an emphasis on lupus.

Dr Tracy Briggs - Second Prize winner

Dr Tracy Briggs

Dr Tracy Briggs of the University of Manchester and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust wins £80k and Dr Edward Vital of the University of Leeds will receive £20k. Both hold clinical and research roles. Tracy focuses on the genetics of lupus, Edward on the autoimmune elements. 

Genetic links to lupus are the focus of Dr Tracy Brigg’s research in Manchester, she says: “Winning the Emerging Leader’s Prize means I now have funding for a technician to help with lab work and a bioinformatician to help analyse genetic data. I can start to ask new questions about the genetic drivers of lupus that I didn’t have the resources to before.”

Dr Ed Vital - Runner-up Prize winner

Dr Ed Vital

Autoimmune conditions are central to Dr Edward Vital’s approach at the University of Leeds, he says: “I’ve spent the past five years creating a new lupus research group in Leeds, so I’m delighted to have won support from the Emerging Leaders Prize. The award will allow me to establish new collaborations with researchers in the US to add value to the work we’ve already done.”

The Emerging Leaders Prize aims to recognize and reward talented researchers who’ve already made a strong contribution to their field. The Foundation funds research in areas like lupus where investment is low, but clinical need is high. 

This year’s Prize was made possible thanks to a legacy gift from Dr Erina Herrick, whose own research explored lupus. 

Medical Research Foundation CEO Dr Angela Hind says: “We are thrilled to present the first Emerging Leaders Prize to three outstanding lupus researchers. Our winners plan to use their prize funds to support a lupus conference, a collaborative study, staff salaries and patient outreach, so the flexibility will help our winners progress their lupus research and ideas even further. The Foundation aims to support research where there is little existing investment but clear clinical need for better treatments. We are delighted that our first Emerging Leaders Prize will boost lupus research across the UK.”

The next Emerging Leaders Prize opens in May 2018 and it will reward excellence in adolescent mental health research.

Notes to Editors

For more information about the awards or to interview Dr Angela Hind, please contact us by email on or phone 07968 985 753.

About the Medical Research Foundation


The Medical Research Foundation invests directly in medical research – donations to the Foundation are never spent on campaigning, advocacy, or support services, simply on science.

Our longstanding connection with the Medical Research Council (MRC) means that we have access to some of the best medical knowledge in the world. That, along with careful governance, ensures we make an impact where it is most needed and that we use donations responsibly.

Unlike many charities, we do not have to provide support for a particular disease or condition, or a particular research institution. We are free to choose our own research priorities so are responsive and flexible in the way we allocate funding. We are always looking for opportunities to support exciting new research.

About the winners

All the winners are clinical academics, meaning they work as both researchers and doctors.

Dr David Hunt works at the Medical Research Council Institute for Genetics and Molecular Medicine and the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Tracy Briggs works for both Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine, Saint Mary’s Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust,  the Division of Evolution and Genomic Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester and NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.

Twitter: @tracyannbriggs

Dr Edward Vital is an associate professor, honorary consultant and a NIHR clinical scientist. He works at the Leeds Institute for Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Leeds, the NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Unit and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. 

Twitter: @edvital

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