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Alex is one of eight Oxford University academics who have been awarded significant financial funding from the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Scheme

Sensory axons (magenta) peppered with ligands for ‘killer’ immune receptors (green)

The scheme was created to help develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders in academia and business. Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced a total of nearly 100 new Fellows, who will share in £113 million funding, with individual researchers receiving up to £1.5 million.

This fellowship gives me the support and resources I need to realise my vision of enhancing the body's own ability to repair and resolve painful nerve injury.
- Dr Alexander Davies

During his fellowship, Dr Davies and his team will investigate exactly how ‘killer’ cells target injured nerves, with the aim of developing a targeted immune therapy for neuropathic pain that avoids the side effects of existing treatments.

Chronic pain, often because of nerve injury, affects as many as 1 in 3 adults in the UK and costs the economy billions of pounds every year in treatment and lost productivity. The currently used drugs may either be ineffective or pose significant side effects for patients.

Alex's previous research has shown that injured nerves display distress signals that are received by specialised ‘killer’ cells of the immune system. The activity of these killer immune cells in turn appears to help relieve the pain of a nerve injury.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, UKRI Chief Executive, said: ‘I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme. The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time.’  

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