Liverpool PhD student recognised at Pandemic Institute’s first Student Excellence Awards

A University of Liverpool student is among the winners of the Pandemic Institute’s first Student Excellence Awards, which aim to boost the career development opportunities of PhD students who could be at the forefront of the fight against future pandemics.

Sponsored by Liverpool-based diagnostics and in-clinic Covid-19 testing company DAM Health, the £5,000 awards will enable the students to further their research by attending international conferences or take up world-leading training and development opportunities.

Along with recipients from LSTM and Liverpool John Moores University, Nicola Seechurn was presented her award by Professor Matt Ashton, Liverpool’s Public Health Director, during a ceremony attended by business, civil and political leaders from across the Liverpool City Region at the Spine on Paddington Village in the Knowledge Quarter Liverpool Innovation District (KQ Liverpool).

Nicola is a PhD student in the University’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences. Her research is about mosquito-borne viruses and assessing the risk of these entering the UK, with a particular focus on West Nile Virus, which can cause severe disease in people, and Usutu, which can severely affect wild bird populations.

On receiving the award, Nicola said: “I am planning to go to several international conferences. It will be a great way to discuss novel ideas, learn and develop new skills and to network with researchers in the same field as myself. I think this experience will be invaluable so I would like to thank the Pandemic Institute and DAM Health for providing these opportunities.”

Professor Matthew Baylis, Director of the Pandemic Institute said: “We often think of pandemic preparedness in terms of new vaccines, medicines or diagnostic tests, but a big part is investing in the work force who will develop these innovations and help combat future disease outbreaks. I am therefore delighted that DAM Health has partnered with the Pandemic Institute and given funding to enhance the training of local PhD students. We are incredibly grateful to Frank Joseph and his team, and proud of our PhD students for their great work. Today’s Student Excellence Awards event will, we hope, be the first of many as the Pandemic Institute works with local, national and international organisations to help prepare the world better for future pandemics”

Professor Frank Joseph, Medical Director of DAM Health, said: “We are proud to have partnered the Pandemic Institute with the Student Excellence Awards and delighted to be  supporting some of Liverpool’s most upcoming and brilliant minds in scientific and medical research with these grants.

“All of the students are incredibly deserving because they have the potential to become key figures in the fight against possible future pandemics and wider medical diagnostics. It was fantastic to be part of today’s ceremony and especially to join Professor Matt Ashton and Professor Matthew Baylis to make these presentations.”

Image: L- R: Professor Frank Joseph, Medical Director of DAM Health, Professor Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health at Liverpool City Council, Student Excellence Award Winner LSTM’s Rachel Byrne, University of Liverpool’s Nicola Seechum, LSTM’s Helen Savage, LJMU’s Valeria Carini, LSTM’s Ryan Robinson, Former Health Minister Edwina Currie, DAM Health’s Christine Cottrell and The Pandemic Institute Director Matthew Baylis.