About the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research
Mission statement: To bring new insights into host-pathogen interactions and accelerate improved health outcomes
The PMB is a cross-divisional, multi-disciplinary building focused on research in host-pathogen interactions. Established for 2 decades now it has developed and strengthened over time through a strong sense of combined purpose and a collaborative ethos. There are 3 major strands to the work which are closely integrated:
This includes studies of major microbial pathogens with a focus on persistent viruses and invasive bacteria. The work extends from single cell studies to global molecular epidemiology, taking advantage of high throughput sequencing approaches to understand the evolution of pathogens within and between hosts.
Host immune responses
This includes a focus on successful control of pathogens with implications for vaccine development, as well as defining critical mechanisms for pathogen escape. Much of the work has focused on T cell responses and protective memory, including pediatric responses and unconventional T cell
This includes development of approaches to understand host-pathogen interactions within host and at the population level. The integration of statistical modelling with sequence evolution and host immunology has been very powerful in shedding light on pathogen history and developing models for future epidemic behaviours, from HIV to Zika.
The shared endeavour across these three strands is to make quantitative descriptions of the processes that generate observed patterns in host-pathogen interactions. Different research groups bring different techniques to that endeavour, but there is a clearly articulated and well-understood shared goal. With an understanding of underlying processes in place it becomes possible to make precise hypotheses about the likely outcome of potential interventions. Close links between theory and observation allow those hypotheses to be tested.
Our aim is to strengthen the interactions in this area which have increasing potential because of the new technologies which allow better insights into host immunity coupled with increasing sequencing power and improved insights through integrative models. On a practical level this is fostered by well-equipped and technically secure category 3 space for pathogen research, shared office space and interaction areas, and core facilities which encourage and sustain group working.
The recent period of the pandemic has highlighted the value of the building, with many contributions to the efforts to understand the behaviour of SARS-CoV-2 and the impact of vaccines. The 3 strands mentioned above have been very much in evidence and the collaborative ethos likewise. It has also brought us closer to colleagues across Oxford sites through the Oxford Immunology Network and I think further raised the profile of the building and the need for such pathogen focused facilities.
You can find out more about the research which takes place at the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research under the 'Research' tab.
The Head of the Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research is Professor Paul Klenerman.