Division of Infection and Immunity


Professor Arne Akbar shortlisted for 2018 Newton Prize

2 October 2018

Division of Infection and Immunity researcher Professor Arne Akbar has been shortlisted for the prestigious £1 million 2018 Newton Prize.

Newton Prize 2018

The 'Role of NK and senescent T cells in the Pathogenesis of human cutaneous leishmaniasis' project led by Professor Arne Akbar is among the 22 projects shortlisted for the award.

Each year the Newton Prize is awarded to projects that demonstrate the best science or innovation; promoting the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries.

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

The Newton Prize was launched in 2016 and is part of the broader Newton Fund. The prize sheds light on the challenges faced by the developing world and how Newton Fund partnerships are helping to solve them. It also incentivises researchers to join the Newton Fund as partners with the UK to address global challenges such as poverty, climate change and public health.

This year 140 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize. Four prizes of up to £200,000 each will be awarded to winning projects with the eligible Latin American countries. There will also be an additional prize (the Chairman’s Award) of £200,000 for a project with the potential for broader impact with other developing countries.   

Applications for this year’s prize were received from a range of institutions, including universities and companies from the UK and abroad. Shortlisted applications take on numerous sustainable development goals: from improving health and wellbeing to reducing inequalities, building sustainable cities, and contributing to peace and justice. They also span the Newton Fund’s three pillars of work: the development of people, new research, and translating ideas into innovations.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Newton Prize Committee Chair and President of the Royal Society and Nobel Laureate, said:

“As the Chair of the judging committee I am thrilled that we have such an exciting and competitive shortlist and I look forward to working with the international judging committee to decide the winners. One of the aims of the Newton Prize is to highlight the lasting partnerships developed between UK researchers and their colleagues in Newton Fund partner countries to solve global challenges.
Latin America has a wealth of excellent researchers working in collaboration with the UK to tackle issues as diverse as post conflict studies, biodiversity, health and energy through the Newton Fund partnerships in the region. Science and innovation often depends on working in partnership across the globe: sharing knowledge and resources to enhance our understanding and make discoveries with the potential to change lives.”

Sir Venki leads a distinguished and independent Newton Prize committee with expertise in the development sector, the Latin American region as well as science and innovation. The committee will review the short-listed applications, along with feedback from expert peer reviewers, and choose the winners.

During November the shortlisted projects below will be celebrated at award events taking place in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, where the winning project for that country will be announced. These events will be followed by a UK reception in December hosted by Sam Gyimah MP, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to celebrate international and science innovation collaborations.

The shortlisted applications are as follows: 

  • Indigenous knowledge sharing networks to promote the wellbeing of Guarani and the restoration of the Atlantic Forest
    Project lead: Marc Brightman, Lecturer at the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability - CAOS at University College London
  • Historic collections as a means of valorising indigenous knowledge
    Project lead: William Milliken, Research Leader, Diversity and Livelihoods, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Role of NK and senescent T cells in the Pathogenesis of human cutaneous leishmaniasis
    Project lead: Professor Arne Akbar, University College London
  • Combining Computational Approaches, Phenotypic Assays & Structure-Based Drug Design For Progressing New Antischistosomal Lead Compounds Towards Pre-Clinical Studies
    Project lead: Associate Professor Nicholas Furnham, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Multi-purpose acoustofluidic devices for new Neglected Tropical Diseases assays
    Project lead: Professor Bruce Drinkwater, University of Bristol
  • Identifying novel intervention strategies to overcome early embryo exposure to environmental stresses: Can we grow robust cattle to sustainably enhance food production?
    Project lead: Niamh Forde, University Academic Fellow, University of Leeds 
  • Political violence and human rights violations accountability: circumstances, uses and effects of forced disappearance registration. Lessons from a comparative perspective in the Americas
    Project lead: Professor Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths
  • Low cost genomic selection for improving disease resistance in Brazilian tilapia aquaculture
    Project lead: Ross Houston, Personal Chair of Aquaculture Genetics, The Roslin Institute
  • Resilient planning of low-carbon power systems
    Project lead: Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, University of Manchester
  • Technology Development and Implementation for Microgrid Interconnection Systems
    Project lead: Jon Clare, Head of the Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, University of Nottingham
  • Bioelectrochemical systems to reduce the environmental impact of coffee agro-industry
    Project lead: Associate Professor Lina María Agudelo Escobar, Microbiology School of University of Antioquia
  • Peace-building and equitable development in Colombia: using community-based knowledge as a basis for negotiated development strategies at the intersection of urban and rural areas
    Project lead: Maria Soledad Garcia Ferrari, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design, University of Edinburgh
  • Biomarkers of therapeutic response in children affected by neglected tropical diseases
    Project lead: Richard Burchmore, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow Sustainable Energy Storage
  • Technologies using Palm Tree Residues from Colombia 
    Project lead: Professor Magdalena Titirici, Queen Mary University of London
  • To scale up the development of an intelligent water measurement device at the industrial level in order to save this valuable resource in Colombia and to serve as a model to be replicated in other countries
    Project lead: Jimy Alexander Aguirre, Hardware Coordinator
  • Design, creation and implementation of a "Mineral Benefit School Plant, municipality of Segovia - Antioquia, Colombia"
    Project lead: Lesli Zapata Sánchez, Co-founder and Assistant Management, Nanotecol
  • Phycoproducts: Potential Use of Phycocyanin, Phycoerythrin and Exopolisaccharydes in the Food Industry
    Project lead: Dr Robert Lovitt, Director, Membranology Ltd.
  • Laboratory bench hydrogen compression using 3D printing technology
    Project lead: Associate Professor Carlos Ponce de Leon, University of Southampton
  • Childhood Obesity - a Mexican solution to a Mexican problem
    Project lead: Paul Taylor, Reader, King's College London
  • Surgical planner and simulation based on virtual reality 
    Project lead: Fabio Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez, Chief Executive, Verum VR
  • Medical Improving bean water use efficiency and bean nitrogen fixation under drought using non-transgenic Mesoamerican germplasm
    Project lead: Caspar Chater, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Global Fellow, IBT UNAM and University of Sheffield
  • Building social, economic, and environmental sustainability in arsenic impacted communities through soil remediation using safe and biodegradable cleaning agents
    Project lead: Professor Bhaskar Sen Gupta