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A team from the Medical Sciences Division has received a share of $14 million in funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Prof. Mark Coles from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Dr. Calliope Dendrou, and Dr. Anita Milicic were announced as one of 29 interdisciplinary teams that will explore emerging ideas regarding the role of inflammation in disease.

While inflammation is a natural defense that helps our bodies maintain a healthy state, chronic inflammation results in harmful diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and heart disease, and can also play a role in organ failure, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and many other conditions such as COVID-19.

The CZI welcomed 80 researchers to work on the two-year pilot projects, 75 percent of which are led by early-career scientists within six years of starting their independent position. Grantee teams are made up of two to three investigators with distinct areas of expertise and they represent 11 countries. 

The Oxford investigators will use a range of adjuvants to determine the first steps in the initiation of an inflammatory immune response that can protect against infection.

"Understanding the cellular and molecular basis of adjuvant mediated inflammation in humans is essential to developing the next generation of vaccines and complements ongoing work on the Human Cell Atlas project in the groups of Dr. Calliope Dendrou (Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics) and my group at the Kennedy Institute, and the development of next generation human vaccine adjuvants in Dr. Anita Milicic group (Jenner Institute)," said Mark.

"Knowing more about inflammation at the level of affected cells and tissues will increase our understanding of many diseases and improve our ability to cure, prevent, or manage them," said CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann. "We look forward to collaborating with these interdisciplinary teams of researchers studying inflammation."

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) was founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, to leverage technology to help solve some of the world's toughest challenges. These grants build on CZI's work in single-cell biology supporting the Human Cell Atlas, a fundamental reference for health and disease.