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Researchers from the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology have been awarded fellowships as part of the Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship Programme. Among six researchers from across NDORMS, the programme provides them with an opportunity to gain exposure to the field of commercial drug discovery and development.

Oxford-BMS fellows
From left to right: Stephanie Dakin, Udo Oppermann, Adam Cribbs, Christopher Buckley, Mark Coles, Elizabeth Mann

The Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship Programme was established in 2015 with the aim of stimulating new scientific discovery and translation and to generate a cohort of scientists that can navigate within and across both academic and industry spheres to bridge translational challenges.

Of the six new fellowships announced, three went to projects at NDORMS:

  • Elizabeth Mann and Mark Coles (Kennedy Institute), with Simon Leedham (Nuffield Department of Medicine).
    Project: Assessing and targeting adaptive epithelial-stromal-immune co-evolution solid tumours
  • Stephanie Dakin and Christopher Buckley (Botnar Research Institute).
    Project: Frozen shoulder: A human disease model of resolving inflammatory fibrosis
  • Udo Oppermann and Adam Cribbs (Botnar Research Institute), with Karthik Ramasamy (Radcliffe Department of Medicine).
    Project: Exploring Polycomb repressive complex as therapeutic targets in high risk multiple myeloma patient subsets

'It is exciting to receive an Oxford-BMS fellowship with Prof. Simon Leedham to characterise and target cancer associated fibroblasts in colorectal and prostate cancer. Our work will analyse compare cancer fibroblast subsets between spontaneous mouse models and human tumours. This fellowship provides an opportunity to develop new approaches to treat check-point unresponsive tumours through targeting tumour stroma.'
- Mark Coles, Principal Investigator 2021 Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship.

'We are delighted to receive an Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship and look forward to establishing a fruitful and collaborative partnership. Our study aims to identify the distinct cell types and molecules responsible for driving inflammatory fibrosis in frozen shoulder, a common painful and debilitating musculoskeletal disease. This strong collaborative link between academia and pharma will help to reveal the cellular basis of inflammatory fibrosis. The Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to catalyse the development of new therapeutic strategies that selectively target or deplete pathogenic cell types, informing new therapies for patients with inflammatory fibrotic disease.'
- Stephanie Dakin, Principal Investigator for 2021 Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship

'It is a great pleasure to welcome Dr Charlotte Palmer as new BMS-Oxford fellow in our research groups at the Botnar Research Centre and the Oxford Centre for Translational Myeloma Research. Our research program with the BMS colleagues in the myeloma disease and therapeutics area continues with the aim to segment the complex genomic aberrations occurring in this haematological malignancy and use this information to specifically target underlying epigenetic mechanisms. Supported through this fellowship and by working with like-minded researchers in academia and industry allows us to focus on translational aspects and therapeutic utility of our research.'
- Udo Oppermann, Principal Investigator 2021 Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellowship.

As with all Oxford-Bristol Myers Squibb Fellows, the new Fellows will carry out world-leading research during their three-year postdoctoral research project and have a unique level of support available to them through the collaborations. Fellows also benefit from the direction and mentorship of Bristol Myers Squibb project leads and have opportunities to carry out research and use facilities at Bristol Myers Squibb labs in the US and Spain, in addition to accessing unique training opportunities.

Spearheaded by Professor Sir Marc Feldmann FRS of the Kennedy Institute at the University of Oxford and Rupert Vessey, M.A., B.M., B.Ch., F.R.C.P., D.Phil., Executive Vice President, Research & Early Development, Bristol Myers Squibb, this active alliance between Bristol Myers Squibb and Oxford catalyses translational research and equips a cohort of researchers with an in-depth, real-world understanding of how research and development works within the biopharma industry. This has the long-term potential to lead to new discoveries that could benefit patients.

See the full story on the Medical Sciences website.