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07 November 2023

Developing Translational Research Capabilities in the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences

Researchers from the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences have been awarded funding through King's Health Partners Essentials for Translational Medical Research


Researchers from the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences have secured successful funding awards through King's Health Partners Funding call 1: Essentials for Translational Medical Research.

Through this funding King’s Health Partners (KHP) are creating the enabling infrastructure to facilitate translational medical and health research, to enhance innovation and accelerate better outcomes for patients and communities served by KHP and beyond.

The awards for the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences include:

  • Clinical Diagnostics Development Unit (CCDU) - Dr Rocio Martinez-Nunez and colleagues
  • King’s Centre for Lung Health Translational Research Capability - Professor Mona Bafadhel and colleagues
  • Accelerated pipeline for target tissue retrieval across Kings Health Partners Academic Rheumatology - Dr Frances Humby (lead) with Dr Bruce Kirkham, Professor James Galloway and Professor Leonie Taams

Funding call 1: Essentials for Translational Medical Research

This call was open to all researchers employed at a KHP organisation and offers funding up to £250,000 towards underpinning posts, equipment and running costs that support translational medical research. Applications which focused on support for collaborative research activity spanning partners and faculties were encouraged.

See all funding awards from this call on the King’s Health Partners website.

Clinical Diagnostics Development Unit (CCDU) 

This award will enable the launch of the Clinical Diagnostics Development Unit (CDDU). The goal of the CDDU is to become a central Unit that harmonizes protocols dedicated to the processing of clinical samples, initially to facilitate research in infection, inflammation and immune-related disorders. We want to be a space where different groups can have their samples processed, but also where novel protocols currently dedicated to one specific discipline or research group are implemented and shared.

Built on the back of KCL TEST, King’s COVID-19 testing programme, the CDDU will also facilitate the accreditation of assays to enable their use in the clinic. We want to be a point of contact to help researchers at different stages of translational projects, from pilot data gathering to running of clinical trials. By centralizing resources, our goal is to enhance translational research already undergoing, facilitate the design of new studies and promote collaboration between disciplines.

Accelerated pipeline for target tissue retrieval across Kings Health Partners Academic Rheumatology  

Despite a paradigm shift in treatment goals and the advent of advanced therapeutics over the past two decades, most patients with inflammatory arthritis still struggle to achieve disease remission, leading to substantial ongoing disease activity and disability. Hence there is a critical need to identify pathobiological markers of disease onset/progression, therapeutic stratification, and therapeutic resistance. However, examination of peripheral blood markers in this regard has had limited impact and so for several years translational research programmes led by King’s College London have integrated studies focused on the sampling of diseased tissue from patients, with a specific emphasis on acquiring synovial tissue, reflecting its recognized importance in disease pathogenesis within the global rheumatological scientific community.

Crucially the KHP Centre for Rheumatic Diseases is among a limited number of centres nationally and internationally that has the necessary clinical expertise, associated translational research programmes and size of patient cohort to deliver complex interventional synovial biopsy-based translational studies. However, despite this there is a significant unmet need to expand and accelerate this research which this investment aims to address, by crafting an expedited pipeline for synovial tissue biopsy collection from patients with inflammatory arthritis. This will be facilitated by the appointment of a cross site research practitioner and a laboratory assistant based in the laboratories of Professor Taams, as well as securing funding for synovial biopsy consumables and sample processing/storage.

Through this investment we aim to augment our existing patient cohorts and formulate new ones for pilot study examination, and longer term to diversify this pipeline to accommodate other target tissues/diseases (e.g SLE/bone marrow). By integrating this infrastructure with other sample processing initiatives, we aim to collectively and collaboratively create a unique patient sample processing/analysis hub at KHP. This collaborative approach aims to drive improvements in outcomes and reduce health inequalities for patients with inflammatory arthritis and position KHP as a global lead in translational medical research in immune mediated inflammatory diseases.

King’s Centre for Lung Health Translational Research Capability

The King’s Centre for Lung Health (KCLH) will deliver work that will change the landscape of respiratory (lung) research locally, nationally and internationally. This is especially important on the back of the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic and in the preparedness for future respiratory infections.

The vision of the KCLH is to ‘eliminate the burden of lung disease through prevention, early diagnosis and treatment’. This is wholly aligned to the KHP translational funding priorities. From respiratory infection, inflammation, physiology, technology, imaging and pharmacology, our strong partnerships across King’s College London, Royal Brompton and Harefield, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital we will impact on patients by the following:

  • Determining risk of lung disease and co-morbidities
  • Diagnosing lung disease earlier using AI-driven breathing tests.
  • Detailed patient characterisation to target new drugs/devices.

The infrastructure funding requested will act as an enabler for the KCLH and provide an essential platform to extend current programmes, and collaborative working, to ensure delivery, increasing income and academic outputs and drive healthy lungs for life, for patients across in our community. 

In this story

Mona Bafadhel.jpg

Chair of Respiratory Medicine


Reader in RNA Biology and Immunity


Head of the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences

James Galloway Profile Pic

Professor of Rheumatology