The 2019 Sidney & Joan Pestka Graduate & Post Graduate Award Winners – Billur Akkaya & Anukriti Mathur

From left: Thomas Lavoie (PBL), Billur Akkaya, Anukriti Mathur, Kate Fitzgerald and Bryan Williams

Generously sponsored by PBL Assay Science.

POST-GRADUATE AWARD WINNER

Billur Akkaya, MD, D.Phil, Research Fellow, Laboratory of Immune System Biology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA

Dr. Billur Akkaya received her medical doctor degree at Hacettepe University, Turkey and completed her doctoral studies as a Felix Scholar at the Nuffield Department of Medicine Human Immunology Unit, University of Oxford, UK. During her graduate studies, she characterized the outcome of Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) stimulation by antibody superagonists in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells under co-supervision of Simon Davis and Richard Cornall. She then moved to the United States to perform her post-doctoral research on regulatory T cell biology in Ethan Shevach’s lab at National Institutes of Health. Her post-doctoral research revealed a novel mechanism by which regulatory T cells perform antigen-specific suppression. She completed her doctoral studies in Oxford as a University of Oxford Felix Scholar and was awarded 2019 American Association of Immunology Thermo Fisher Trainee Achievement Award, 2018 National Institutes of Health Fellows Award for Research Excellence, 2011 University of Oxford Christ Church College Hugh Pilkington Scholarship, and 2007 Hacettepe University Medical School Intern of the Year (Seref Zileli) Award. She currently works as a research fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Oral Presentation: Monday 21 October 2019 | 14:05 – 14:15, in the Session: Oral Abstract Session with a focus on T Cells – in the Festsaal – TBET PROVIDES SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE TO TREGS DURING SYSTEMIC INTERFERON GAMMA DRIVEN IMMUNE RESPONSES

GRADUATE AWARD WINNER

Anukriti Mathur from The John Curtin School of Research at the ANU.

Anukriti Mathur, PhD candidate, Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Anukriti is a third year PhD student at the Australian National University, Australia, under supervision of Dr Si Ming Man. Her PhD project focuses on understanding how the innate immune system triggers an inflammatory response following host recognition of infection. Her research identified a multi-subunit toxin, haemolysin BL, of the bacterial pathogen Bacillus cereus, driving activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, leading to robust production of interleukin-1beta and interleukin-18.

Anukriti completed her Bachelor of Technology in Biotechnology at Amity University, India in 2010. She received a Master of Engineering in Biotechnology from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani Campus, India in 2016. In 2015, she was awarded a Khorana fellowship by the Government of India which allowed her to conduct a research project at the Harvard Medical School, USA. Anukriti’s doctoral work has been recognised by a Gretel and Gordon Bootes Medical Research Foundation grant award, an Australian Society for Microbiology Nancy Millis student Award, and an International Association of Inflammation Societies Travel Award.

Oral Presentation: Wednesday 23 October 2019 | 12:40 – 12:50 , in the Session: Local and systemic effects of IL-1 family cytokines in disease – in the Zeremoniensaal – A MULTI-COMPONENT BACTERIAL TOXIN INCITES HOST INFLAMMATION VIA THE NLRP3 INFLAMMASOME