Dr Tung Le has been awarded a prestigious Lister Fellowship in recognition of his group’s innovative research and its potential for antibiotic discovery.
Dr Le, a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the John Innes Centre, is one of eight early-career biomedical scientists named today as recipients by the Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine.
Highly prized in the field of microbiology, the fellowships are worth £250,000 and can be used flexibly to allow new lines of investigation in ways that may benefit medicine.
Dr Le’s research group studies Streptomyces, soil bacteria which are the source of most clinically used antibiotics.
Despite the importance of this bacterial genus, scientists have only recently begun to explore the genomic and functional diversity of Streptomyces in our soil.
Discovery and production of new antibiotics will depend on better understanding of Streptomyces genomic and functional diversity, and of the developmental and cellular mechanisms that enable this remarkable metabolic potential to be realised.
Streptomyces are peculiar in that they often contain giant linear plasmids. These biologically important molecules are often involved in complex metabolic processes including antibiotic production.
Dr Le’s group is interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms by which linear plasmids might contribute to the genome evolution in antibiotic-producing Streptomyces.
“This flexible funding will allow our lab to explore an entirely new line of investigation in an organism that is highly relevant for human health. On a personal level I am thrilled to be able to embed myself with the vibrant Lister fellow community, and the opportunities that it brings for learning from and collaborating with leaders in the field,” he said.
Dr Le thanked Professor Mark Buttner and Professor Tony Maxwell for supporting his application and lab members, colleagues, and the scientific support platforms at the John Innes Centre for contributing towards this success.
The Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine funds high quality biomedical research through annual prize grants
The prizes are awarded as lump sums which must be spent within a five-year period. They are aimed at early-year researchers running their own groups for whom the prize would make a significant difference to their research work.
A spokesperson for the Institute said: “This year, in a response to the Covid pandemic, we were keen to award as many Fellowships as possible. We received a high number of outstanding applications and so we are delighted to say that, for the first time, eight researchers will receive the £250,000 in flexible funding.”