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£1M fellowship awarded to Liverpool scientist for deadly brain virus research


A Liverpool scientist has been awarded a Fellowship of nearly £1M by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to carry out research into emerging brain viruses such as Japanese encephalitis.

Dr Tom Solomon, from the University’s Department of Clinical Science, has been honoured with a Senior Clinical Fellowship by the MRC to further his work on virus infections of the brain. Only one or two such Fellowships are awarded annually by the MRC.

The Fellowship will enable Dr Solomon and his team from the Viral Brain Infections Group to study brain damage caused by Japanese encephalitis – a deadly mosquito-borne virus, common in Asia. Infection with the virus results in swelling and inflammation of the brain.

The group will investigate how much brain damage is caused by the virus itself and how much is caused by the body’s attempts to fight it off. A better understanding of this could lead to the development of new treatments for the virus.

Dr Solomon said: "I am pleased that the Medical Research Council appreciates the growing importance of emerging viruses, such as Japanese encephalitis, and recognises our group’s work. The award also enhances the University’s reputation as a centre of excellence for studying mosquito-borne viruses, which should support future expansion in this area."

The MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship is a highly prestigious award for clinical researchers of exceptional ability. Applicants are expected to be proven independent researchers, to be well-qualified for academic research and to demonstrate promise as future research leaders.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University, Professor Jon Saunders, commented: “This demonstrates the excellence of clinical research in Liverpool. Dr Solomon’s work involves significant collaboration between those interested in neurological conditions and those interested in infectious disease.

He added: “Some of the diseases of interest to Tom are transmitted to humans from animals and the Fellowship is therefore important in the context of the new National Centre for Zoonosis Research recently established at the University.”

Joanna Robotham | alfa
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