A Bath alumna, Professor Powrie has dedicated her career to better understanding the human gut and its interactions with the immune system, and her work is opening up new avenues for the treatment of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases.
Her research focuses on the role of immune pathways in the intestine in health and how these change in inflammatory bowel disease. She identified cells that police the immune response in the intestine – regulatory T cells (Treg) – and prevent our defence system from attacking bacteria that are good for the human body; she has also demonstrated that Treg cell deficiencies could lead to chronic intestinal inflammatory disease.
Speaking of her award, Professor Powrie said: “It is a great honour for me to receive an Honorary degree from the University of Bath. It was as a Bath biochemistry undergraduate that I first became interested in the immune system and was inspired to follow a career in academic research.”
The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities both in terms of research and reputation for excellence in teaching, learning and graduate prospects. Its honorary degrees are prestigious awards conferred to individuals who have made significant contributions in their field.
A Fellow of the Royal Society since 2011, Professor Powrie has also received numerous other distinctions, notably the 2012 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, a major European award recognising excellence in biomedical research, as well as the 2009 Ita Askonas Prize, from the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS) and the European Journal of Immunology (EJI), which is awarded to leading female immunologists.
Fiona Powrie studied biochemistry at the University of Bath before undertaking a PhD in immunology in Oxford. Following postdoctoral studies in the United States at the DNAX Research Institute, she returned to Oxford in 1996 to establish her own laboratory as a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow. She was appointed as the inaugural Sidney Truelove Professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Oxford in 2009 and established the Translational Gastroenterology Unit, Oxford.
In October 2014, Professor Powrie was appointed as Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology where she aims to translate fundamental basic science into new treatments for debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Images copyright: Nic Delves-Broughton, University of Bath 2015