A £1.7 million memorial donation will help drive new research into antimicrobial resistance at the University of Warwick.
The donation, made in recognition of the late Sir Howard Dalton, will fund research and scholarships to help discover new drugs that target resistant microbes.
Antimicrobial resistance poses a huge problem in healthcare, risking modern medicine becoming ineffective. This could lead to common infections becoming deadly illnesses.
Now, thanks to a generous donation, research into the issue can progress at pace through a network of academics, known as the Sir Howard Dalton Centre for (Translational) Mechanistic Enzymology.
The gift was made by Sir Howard’s former student Dr David Stirling (PhD Biosciences, 1974-78). David, co-founder of the pharmaceutical company Celgene, first supported research at Warwick with a $250,000 gift to antimicrobial resistance research on Giving Day 2021.
Thanks to this gift, a Warwick-Monash Fellow was recruited to study genetically engineered bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) as treatment for intracellular Salmonella typhi infection.
David said: “I have many fond memories of studying at Warwick, supervised by Howard, and wanted to give back to support an area of research that I think is critically important.”
Sir Howard was part of the Warwick academic community from 1973 until he passed away in 2008, serving in many senior positions and taking a secondment as Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2002-2007. He is fondly remembered for his excellence as a globally renowned enzymologist.
Professor Chris Dowson, Co-Director of the new Centre, said: “The researchers of the Sir Howard Dalton Centre for (Translational) Mechanistic Enzymology, including academics at the University of Warwick, will foster international collaboration and develop a new pipeline of talent.
“A key focus for scientists of the Centre will be understanding changes to enzyme structures which underpin drug resistance in microbes. We want to discover how these modified enzymes are formed and what we can do to overcome the resistance.
“For example, we want to discover drugs which can target these modified enzymes and then work alongside our industry partners in translational approaches. From the laboratory bench to therapeutics, we seek to help tackle this critical worldwide problem.
“David’s gift will inspire further support for the Centre and early career fellowships, kick-starting funding of up to £14 million towards a full National Centre of Excellence that will also have strong connections globally, to help tackle antimicrobial resistance and train the next generation of leaders.”
The Centre was launched at an event in the University of Warwick’s new Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building (IBRB) on Thursday (20 October). The event was attended by Dr David Stirling, his former classmates, Sir Howard’s family and former colleagues and members of the antimicrobial resistance research community.
Professor Christine Ennew, Provost, who leads the academic community at Warwick, said: “The IBRB was built to enable exactly the type of collaborative, interdisciplinary research that the Sir Howard Dalton Centre for (Translational) Mechanistic Enzymology is supporting. This vision will continue with the STEM Grand Challenge, a significant investment by the University to improve the teaching, learning and research capabilities for Science and Engineering. We are incredibly grateful to David for his philanthropy, which will accelerate research into a global healthcare challenge often described as ‘the silent pandemic’.”
To find out more about how philanthropy can accelerate antimicrobial resistance research at Warwick, contact Natalie Lloyd at Natalie.Lloyd@warwick.ac.uk.
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21 October 2022