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Clocktower clockTuesday 23 September 2014 9:50am

Andrew Highton
Andrew Highton

A University of Otago researcher, Andrew Highton, has won a prestigious Nuffield post-doctoral fellowship to Oxford University, where from next year, he will continue his PhD research in immunology.

The Nuffield Dominions Trust at Oxford awards this post-doctoral fellowship every two years to one New Zealander, either a clinician or a scientist.

“Oxford is a central hub of research and a great place to go to advance my career so I'm really happy about my placement there, where I can hopefully conduct some ground-breaking research,” he says.

Andrew, who was raised and educated in Dunedin, says he will continue his PhD research on memory T cells, which are the cells responsible for the function of vaccines. This is a similar research area to what he has been pursuing in immunology while studying his PhD at Otago.

“My new research will be looking into the induction of some virus-specific memory T cells, working with Professor Paul Klenerman, whose group at Oxford works on the immune response to chronic viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis C,” he says.

Andrew's supervisor, Dr Roslyn Kemp from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, says Andrew worked in her laboratory, focusing on testing the ability of a new vaccine formulation to generate memory T cells, and then measuring the effect of these T cells in protecting against colorectal cancer. This used a new mouse model of cancer that Andrew had developed in the lab.

“Andy is hardworking, motivated and intelligent, and he truly deserves this fellowship and will achieve great things with it. He has been in my lab for five years and has developed into a wonderful scientist - not just with his research but teaching other students and participating in science in the broader sense,” she says.

Andrew plans to eventually return to New Zealand to continue his career.

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