Menna Clatworthy, a Group Leader in the University of Cambridge Molecular Immunity Unit based at the LMB, has won a prestigious EFIS-IL (European Federation of Immunological Societies-Immunology Letters) Lecture Award, having been described by the nominating body as “a true clinician scientist of the 21st century – continuously pushing boundaries of biomedical insight at the interface of fundamental immunology, clinical immunology and systems precision medicine”.
The EFIS-IL Lecture Award enables EFIS Member Societies to invite an outstanding European immunologist to speak at their national meeting, where the recipient is presented with a bronze medal depicting two early pioneers of immunology, Paul Ehrlich and Elie Metchnikoff.
Menna’s group are interested in understanding how activation of B cells and the function of antibodies are regulated in different parts of the body, particularly in the kidney and the gut, and how they influence immune responses. Menna’s lecture on her research in this area had a major focus on work from her group recently published in the journal Immunity, that has led to a new understanding of the cause of ulcerative colitis (UC). Her team identified how having a genetic variant of a particular type of antibody receptor leads to UC. This variant alters antibody binding such that immune cells may be inappropriately activated by antibodies binding to bacteria that are naturally found in our gut. Importantly, these findings challenged previous assumptions that IgG antibodies are unimportant in the gut, where IgA is the more common type of antibody, and potentially identifies a new pathway that can be targeted for UC treatment.
About receiving the award, Menna said,
“I was hugely honoured to be nominated for this award and even more pleased to receive it, especially when I looked at previous laureates, many of whom I view as giants of immunology – Adrian Hayday, Klaus Rajewski, Luke O’Neill and Marco Colonna to name a few. Hopefully I can emulate their achievements going forward.”
Menna has previously been awarded the British Renal Association Raine Award and the Medical Research Society Young Investigator Award for her work on the role of antibodies and Fcg receptors in auto-immunity and defence against infection. Menna divides her time between research, teaching, and clinical practice in transplantation and nephrology.
Menna received her award at the Scandinavian Society of Immunology Annual General Meeting in Norway.