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Alan has spent two months at the Kennedy Institute as a guest of Professor Dame Fiona Powrie. During his visit he has spent his time collaborating with researchers at the Kennedy and other departments in the University, and mentoring young investigators on their career development.

Alan Sher presenting his lecture on microbial priming of the lung for control of SARS-CoV-2 infection

With a long and productive career in immunoparasitology and mycobacterial immunology Alan's studies on the immunology of infection have helped provide a foundation for the study of immunity and infection today.

Alan is an NIH Distinguished Investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland having joined the institute as section head in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases in 1980, subsequently being promoted as the chief of the department. In 2022 he closed his laboratory and research program to focus on mentoring activities.

Alan is hosted by Professor Dame Fiona Powrie, Director of the Institute and Professor Helen McShane of the Jenner Institute. Fiona said: 'I first met Alan while I was doing my postdoc in California and we collaborated on models of colitis an area we are still pursuing today. It's been such a pleasure to host Alan, he has contributed a lot of ideas to our work supporting students and postdocs in the lab. Alan is an inspirational mentor evident from the large number of his former trainees that are now leaders in the field themselves.'

On 3 June Alan delivered a talk on "Bacterial induced IFN-y primes the lung for innate control of SARS-CoV-2 infection" to an invited audience at the Kennedy. The seminar was based on recent research on whether the 100-year-old BCG vaccine, traditionally used against TB, could provide some protection against COVID. While not yet epidemiologically substantiated, Alan's research showed that the BCG could provide protection when given intravenously, but not through the conventional subcutaneous injection route used in human vaccination.

Through his research Alan has made strong connections to Oxford and has been spending time visiting his collaborators which include Helen McShane, Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, Siamon Gordon, Professor Emeritus of Cellular Pathology in the Dunn School, and Goylette Chami at the Big Data Institute who is working on Schistosoma mansoni, the same parasite that Alan began researching early in his career.

He is the former Scientific Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program (alias Oxcam) which enables American students to partner with two investigators - one at the NIH and another at the University of Oxford or University of Cambridge for their DPhil, PhD or MD PhD.

Speaking about his time at Oxford Alan said: 'It's really been an exciting experience for me. In addition to spending quality time with prominent Oxford investigators in the fields of immunology and infectious disease I have been able to closely interact with many young trainees (including the scholars in our Oxcam program) giving them what I hope has been useful feedback on their research as well as career trajectories.'