Wellcome-Beit Prize: people we've funded

Each year we award four Wellcome-Beit Prizes to our best intermediate fellows. We provide £25,000 to each fellow, to use in their ongoing research.

We consider these prizes during interviews for our Research Career Development Fellowships, Sir Henry Dale Fellowships, Intermediate Clinical Fellowships and Clinical Research Career Development Fellowships. Researchers do not need to make a separate application.

Sir Otto Beit founded and endowed these fellowships in 1909 as a memorial to his brother Alfred. The aim was to promote the advancement of medicine and allied sciences.

Before 2009, these awards were called Beit Memorial Fellowships for Medical Research. You can find out more on the Wellcome Library website.

Current prize holders

Dr Bungo Akiyoshi

Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford

Elucidating the mechanism of chromosome segregation in Trypanosoma brucei

From September 2013, Bungo will be working in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, studying trypanosomal kinetochores as a group leader.

Paul Bays

University College London

Prioritisation of sensory resources for action in the healthy and lesioned brain

Paul is interested in how we use short-term memory and visual attention to guide our actions. He conducts psychophysical, memory and motor performance experiments to investigate these topics in both healthy individuals and neurological patients. His goal is to identify computational mechanisms underlying sensory control of action, and relate them to the neural processes by which they are implemented in the nervous system.

Michael Chapman

University of Cambridge

The role of aberrant RNA processing in the pathogenesis of multiple myeloma.

Daniel Davis

University College London

The population impact of delirium on long-term cognitive impairment

Daniel is a geriatrician and epidemiologist interested in delirium and future cognitive impairment. He seeks to track cognitive function before, during and after delirium. Understanding how delirium and/or acute illness contribute to trajectories of cognitive decline will involve recruiting a population sample of older persons, working with existing cohorts in the Dementias Platform UK (UK Biobank, SABRE, Whitehall II, CHARIOT, MRC National Survey for Health and Development) and developing a scalable, informatics-based delirium measure with the Farr Institute @ CIPHER. Daniel will spend part of his Fellowship gaining experience in hospital informatics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr Yi Feng

University of Edinburgh

Live imaging and genetic analysis of the inflammatory response upon oncogene-induced tissue homeostasis disruption and its contribution to tumour initiation in zebrafish larvae

Yi’s lab at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh uses a combination of live imaging and genetic analysis in zebrafish to study the earliest events of tumour initiation in vivo. Her research focuses on interactions between normal host tissue with transformed cells and infiltrating innate immune cells, and she has demonstrated that the latter mount a trophic response toward emergent transformed cells. Her research aims to understand underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating this trophic inflammation response during tumour initiation.

Dr Eva Frickel

National Institute for Medical Research, London

A new perspective on anti-Toxoplasma immunity

The long-term goal of Eva’s group is to identify novel pathways and mechanisms of host resistance to Toxoplasma gondii. This protozoan parasite infects a broad range of hosts, with a seroprevalence in man of about 30 per cent. It is unclear how Toxoplasma maintains the intricate balance between survival and host defence. Eva is studying how the parasitophorous vacuole is remodelled within host cells to limit parasite replication, as well as how antigen processing is facilitated for presentation to CD8 T cells. In addition, she is characterising the properties and phenotype of memory CD8 T cells in the Toxoplasma-infected brain.

Dr Svetlana Khoronenkova

University of Cambridge

Signalling of DNA single-strand breaks and links to neurodegeneration

Svetlana is a biochemist with interests in DNA damage signalling and repair, also known as the DNA damage response. The cellular response to DNA damage is crucial in living cells that need to repair thousands of DNA lesions each day. The majority of these lesions arise from the intrinsic chemical instability of DNA, and defects in repair lead to human diseases such as cancers and neurodegeneration. Svetlana will use a wide variety of biochemical and molecular biological techniques to expand our understanding of the links between deficiencies in the DNA damage response and the molecular nature of progressive neurological diseases.

Dr Meritxell Huch

University of Cambridge

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of adult live regeneration

Meritxell is a stem cell biologist with a background in cancer and tissue regeneration. Stem cells are required for tissue homeostasis and tissue repair. At the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, Meritxell and her team are focused on gaining further understanding of the molecular mechanism by which stem cells sense tissue damage and start proliferating to repair the injured tissue. By gaining further insight into these repair mechanisms, Meritxell aims to better understand the basics of cancer, because during tumour initiation, similar processes have to be activated to instruct the resting cells to start proliferating.

David McAllister

University of Glasgow

Treatment effectiveness in multimorbidity: combining efficacy estimates from clinical trials with the natural history obtained from large routine healthcare databases to determine net overall treatment benefits

Andrew MacAskill

University College London

Better understanding of affective behaviour through functional dissection of ventral subicular circuitry

Dr Serge Mostowy

University College London

Controlling the intracellular fate of cytosolic pathogens

Serge studies how host cells control infection by cytosolic host responses, including autophagy and cytoskeleton reorganisation. Using bacterial infection, his research is currently focused on identifying and characterising host and pathogen determinants underlying the intracellular fate of cytosolic bacteria, and investigating the role of discovered molecules and mechanisms in vivo using zebrafish models of bacterial infection. Completion of these objectives may suggest the development of new therapeutic strategies aimed at bacterial infection, and possibly other disease states that also implicate cytosolic host responses.

Serena Nik-Zainal

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Exploring the biological processes underlying mutational signatures identified in cancers

Somatic mutations in cancer genomes have been generated by multiple DNA damage processes, the effects of which are mitigated by the cellular repertoire of DNA repair pathways. Each process leaves a characteristic imprint, or mutational signature, on the cancer genome. Current biological understanding of these mutational signatures is remarkably limited. Serena aims to explore the biological basis of mutational signatures that emerge from cancer genomes by studying mutational signatures that arise in patients with inherited genetic defects in DNA repair/replication machinery. She will also explore signatures generated through the experimental manipulation of components of the DNA repair/replicative machinery in model systems.

Elspeth Payne

University College London

Identifying novel therapeutics and disease mechanisms for ribosomal protein-mediated human haematopoietic diseases

Beth is a haematologist with an interest in bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes. Her Fellowship focuses on understanding the contribution of aberrant protein translation in haematopoietic cells of patients with ribosomal protein disorders and identifying novel therapeutics through in vivo chemical screens using the zebrafish model.

Dr Markus Ralser

University of Cambridge

Genome-wide analysis of the interactions that mediate communication between central carbon metabolism and the cellular regulome

Markus is interested in the stability and regulatory role of the metabolic network during ageing and the stress response. Regulatory mechanisms that involve the metabolic network are studied by combining mass spectrometry and functional yeast genomics. His laboratory is primarily interested in dynamic metabolic rearrangements within central carbon metabolism, and their influence on growth and ageing of eukaryotic cells.

Rhys Roberts

University of Cambridge

The Charcot-Marie Tooth diseases and associated defects in membrane transport

Rhys is based at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, investigating the inherited peripheral neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. He is focusing on the demyelinating forms of the disease, in which many of the patient-associated mutated genes encode proteins known to have important roles in intracellular membrane transport. Rhys's overall goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie peripheral nerve myelination by Schwann cells and the processes that become dysfunctional when disease-associated genes are mutated.

George Tofaris

Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford

Studies on alpha-synuclein degradation and its relevance to Lewy body disease

George is using his Fellowship to establish his laboratory at the University of Oxford. He aims to study mechanisms of lysosomal degradation and their relevance to Parkinson's disease. He is also investigating whether key enzymes in these pathways could be targets for neuroprotective therapies.

Laurie Tomlinson

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Drug-associated acute kidney injury: who gets it, when and why?

Laurie is a nephrologist with research interests in acute kidney injury and the role that commonly prescribed medications play in its development. She is based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, working with Professor Liam Smeeth. Her Fellowship will support a project using large primary care databases to find optimal ways to define acute kidney injury and to study how the interplay of patient factors, medication use and infections promotes the development of the condition. Understanding these factors will enable development of guidelines for safer prescribing in the growing population of older people with multiple comorbidities.

Amaya Viros

University of Manchester

Understanding the biological mechanisms leading to poor outcome in melanoma of the elderly population and developing secondary prevention strategies

Past prize holders

Francesca Barone

University of Birmingham

The role of leukocyte-stromal cell interactions in the pathogenesis of salivary gland inflammation and Sjogren's Syndrome

Mark Dawson

University of Cambridge

Chromatin regulation of self-renewal transcriptional programmes in leukaemia stem cells

Mark has spent his Fellowship helping to establish a novel therapeutic paradigm for the treatment of aggressive haematological malignancies. His work, published in 'Nature' in 2011, demonstrated that targeting chromatin/epigenetic readers could provide excellent efficacy in acute myeloid leukaemia. This study, with others, has provided the platform for phase I clinical trials with this new class of compounds. In addition, Mark has authored three book chapters and nine other manuscripts and has been invited to speak at several national and international conferences on cancer epigenetics. These opportunities have strengthened his long-term ambition to be a leading researcher in this field.