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The Dorothy Temple Cross Fund: Uniting against TB

Last updated

30/09/20

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Last month, we launched a new funding scheme; the Dorothy Temple Cross International TB Collaboration Grant. The award aims to supports new, mutually beneficial collaborative projects between mid-career Tuberculosis (TB) researchers in the UK and Africa.

“I managed to secure this life-changing award in 1977, which allowed me to work with pioneering allergy researchers at Harvard University in the US. I acquired a whole set of new skills and secured further funding, which was a game-changer for me.”
Professor Stephen Holgate
University of Southampton

Tuberculosis – the challenge

TB is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium which is spread in the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or spits. The infection can be symptomless, but for those who develop the active disease it can be lethal. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB has been the leading cause of death from an infection for over a decade, with nearly 1.5 million people dying from the disease in 2018 alone. TB is treatable and curable, but treatment typically takes six months and involves four antimicrobial drugs. Because of this, in areas where access to healthcare and support is difficult, many people go untreated or are unable to finish a course of treatment.

Another problem is the rapid rise of drug-resistant strains of TB, which can leave patients with either a long chemotherapy regime or no further treatment options. Although there has been significant progress in the understanding and treatment of TB in the past two decades, no country has successfully eradicated TB.

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Who was Dorothy Temple Cross?

The Dorothy Temple Cross Fund is one of the oldest funds we hold. It was originally set up by Florence Temple Cross in 1929, the widow of Horatio Robert Odo Cross, Surgeon General of the Royal Grenadier Guards. The fund is named after Florence’s daughter, Dorothy, who died in the 1920s from TB. Dorothy was painted in 1916 by renowned portraitist Philip de László – however, it is not known where this portrait currently is.

The original donation to the Medical Research Council (MRC) was intended to support Fellows undertaking research or teaching in TB overseas, and aimed to encourage improvement in the methods for preventing and treating TB.

‘A life-changing award’

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Over time, the scheme was widened, allowing more diverse research topics to be explored by researchers. One such grant-holder was Professor Stephen Holgate (pictured right) from the University of Southampton, who received a travelling Fellowship award.

The award was influential for Professor Holgate’s career, as he returned to the new University Medical School in Southampton and established a world-class research base on asthma and allergy, supported by the MRC. Professor Holgate has recently been in the news as the co-developer of an interferon-beta related drug, which could be a breakthrough treatment for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

Adapting the scheme for the 21st century

The scheme has been dormant for some time; however, the ongoing need for research and investment in TB remains. We are now relaunching an award competition from this fund, but with a new focus to ensure that we are funding research where it is most needed.

TB occurs all over the world, however, it is a particularly big problem in African countries, where nearly a quarter of new cases in 2018 occurred. Because of this, supporting international collaborations with researchers in Africa is a vital part for battling this infectious disease.

In order for the Dorothy Temple Cross fund to have the greatest impact possible, we are changing the way it will be run from previous decades. Our revised scheme will promote new collaborations between researchers in the UK and Africa. These collaborations will be mutually beneficial, supporting the development of both researchers’ careers and increasing the impact of their research. By stimulating exciting research ideas, in the countries where they will have the most impact, these awards will act as a catalyst for establishing continued support, future funding and ground-breaking research.

Apply for the Dorothy Temple Cross award

To apply for the Dorothy Temple Cross International TB Collaboration Grant, please see the information provided here, and submit your application to research@medicalresearchfoundation.org.uk by Friday 23 October 12pm.

Are you a previous recipient of the Dorothy Temple Cross Fellowship? Or, do you know where the Dorothy Temple Cross portrait is? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at research@medicalresearchfoundation.org.uk.

[sources: WHO TB report 2019]

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