CAMS Oxford Institute (COI) Co-Director, Group Lead (COI, Nuffield Department of Medicine & MRC Human Immunology Unit, WIMM) & Fellow of University College, Professor Tao Dong, has been appointed the Ita Askonas Professor of Translational Immunology. Tao has worked on understanding T cell responses to viral infections and in cancer for more than two decades, establishing her own successful research group alongside founding the COI. This appointment recognises the success of her research career.
Brigitte Askonas, widely known among immunologists as Ita, helped to establish many of the basic mechanisms and components behind the immune response to infection. Ita was the first to isolate and clone T cells and her research paved the way for understanding viral antigen presentation to T cells, a foundation of T cell immunology research. She supervised and mentored many scientists throughout her career who went on to have hugely successful careers, including Prof. Alain Townsend & Sir Prof. Andrew McMichael.
The appointment holds extra value for Tao as Ita was Tao's mentor for many years:
"I am thrilled to receive this Professorship named after Ita. It means a lot to me, and I am grateful for the recognition not just for me, but also my lab members and colleagues in Oxford and China. Ita was my mentor for 10 years at the most critical stage of my career, I genuinely think I would not have made it without her advice and encouragement over the years. It has been 10 years since she left us in January 2013, but somehow, I feel she is still with me and often ask myself what would Ita say when I need help and advice." - Prof. Tao Dong.
The appointment was announced in the 20th July 2023 edition of the Oxford University Gazette.