Penang-born scientist gets RM1m UK research award

dr-Muzlifah-HaniffaPETALING JAYA: A Penang-born scientist in Britain, Muzlifah Haniffa, has been awarded a £200,000 (RM1 million) fellowship for research into white blood cells and the immune system.

The fellowship is one of five research prizes awarded every year by the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine for biomedical research.

Muzlifah is a senior research fellow in clinical science at Newcastle University and has worked in Britain for the past 15 years.

She was awarded the fellowship in May and will use the money for research into a family of white blood cells, with the aim of improving existing vaccination strategies and new treatments for cancer.

She said her research tracks the movement and functional changes of white blood cells across human body tissue. “My work aims to construct a live video recording in multiple dimensions of each immune cell during inflammation,” she said, according to Star Online.

She hoped that her research would pave the way to develop new forms of therapy that would exploit the powers of the immune system, much like recent developments in cancer treatments.

In 2012, she was the lead author of a research paper on the discovery of a new type of white blood cells by a team of researchers from Newcastle University and the Singapore Immunology Network.

The cell activates a killing immune response to an external source, a feature known as cross-presentation. “These are the cells we need to be targeting for anti-cancer vaccines,” she said at the time. Our discovery offers an accessible, easily targetable system which makes the most of the natural ability of the cell.”