If I am successful, the Jennie Thomas Medical research travel grant will be used to support my travel to two of the worlds biggest immunology conferences. 

The first, Immunology 2015: The American Associates of Immunology in New Orleans, Louisiana (May 8th-12th 2015) and the second, The 4th European Congress of Immunology in Vienna, Austria (September 6th-9th 2015).

The first conference, the American Associates of Immunologists (AAI) meeting held once a year, is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of immunology and its related disciplines, and addressing the potential integration of immunologic principles into clinical practice. This association publishes in the Journal of Immunology, the biggest and most cited journal in the field. Attracting thousands of scientific professionals, this conference is one of the biggest immunology conferences. This year, there will be lectures by the distinguished scientists Prof Christine Biron and Prof Albert Bendelac who are experts in the field of innate immunity and infection, and have published in prestigious journals such as Nature, Immunity, Nat Immunol, and the Journal of Experimental Medicine. At this conference I will present my latest work on how macrolide antibiotics work on the immune system to reduce inflammation and airway hyper-responsiveness in severe steroid-resistant models of asthma. My abstract has been accepted for presentation, so attending this conference, and meeting other researchers in my field will allow me to discuss ideas of what steps to take next and how to
apply observations I have made, to what happens in the clinic. It will also allow me to showcase other research that is happening here at HMRI and the University of Newcastle. 

The second conference, the European Congress of Immunology (ECI), also hosts a prestigious international meeting once a year. There are several invited speakers from a wide range of different disciplines including clinicians, basic science researchers and public health workers, all renowned experts in their respective fields. At this conference there will be an opportunity to hear from Prof Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin, which is third in the world of immunology research. Prof O’Neill received the Boyle medal for research excellence and is a pioneer in mechanisms of the innate immiune system and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. He has also been named a Distinguished Lecturer at Oxford University and received Ireland’s researcher of the year award. Being able to hear lectures and seminars from reserachers of this calibre will expose me to cutting edge research and concepts that I can then bring back to HMRI and our group. Many ideas that we have gone on to publish in high ranking journals, have come from international meetings such as these.

Both these conferences encourage the sharing of exciting new advances in all fields and provide a forum for researchers to discuss, challenge and refine these new ideas. A highlight of these conferences is that attendees are able to meet with experts on a one-to-one basis and have access to ideas and methods that are at the forefront of scientific research. I aim to form new and long-term connections with international labs allowing collaborations that will help further knowledge in this field. Attending these two conferences will also allow me access to a number of state-of-the-art techniques for the investigation of innate immunity and inflammation that I do not have expertise in yet. Our group does a significant amount of work in immunology and my travel to this conference will allow me to network with and discuss our research with leading researchers in this field. This experience will not only prove valuable in extending upon my current studies but will be utilised in future studies. Importantly this is an opportunity for me to share the work that I am doing and receive feedback on the progress my work. 


Dr Ama-Tawiah Essilfie

Project type 
Travel Grant
Year of funding