The Ker Memorial Prize

The Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture

The Ker Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the PhD student who has submitted the best thesis on Infectious Diseases during that year.

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases is delighted to announce that the 2015 winner of the Ker Memorial Prize is Dr Wei Yuan Hsieh in the Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine, University of Edinburgh.

The prize is very generously supported by Miss Aileen Ker, in memory of two outstanding Edinburgh physicians, her grandfather Dr. Claude Buchanan Ker, and his son (her father), Dr. Frank Leighton Ker.

The Ker family also support the presentation of the Ker Memorial Lecture, given by an eminent invited scientist in Infectious Diseases.

  • Dr. Claude Buchanan Ker (1867-1925) spent his professional medical career in Edinburgh, working ceaselessly to improving the treatment of infectious diseases.  He is best remembered for his tireless efforts to build the City Fever Hospital which opened in Colinton in 1903, and of which he was medical superintendent for 21 years. 
  • Dr. Frank Leighton Ker (1907-1966), began his medical career in Edinburgh and went on to carry out his main work at the East Birmingham Hospital, where he became medical superintendent in 1950.

The glowing and heartfelt obituaries written for both these men (links above), show the enormous regard and affection in which they were held, and to which the Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture now provide fitting testimony. 

Ker Memorial Prize 2015

In 2015 we received four excellent nominations:

  • Dr Marcelo Barria
    • Prof Mark Head's Lab, National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Research and Surveillance Unit, Western General Hospital
  • Dr Alison Burrells
    • Prof Lee Innes' and Dr Frank katzer's Labs, Moredun Research Institute
  • Dr Wei Yuan Hsieh
    • Prof Peter Ghazal's Lab, Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine, Little France
  • Dr Amanda MacFarlane
    • Prof Jürgen Schwarze's Lab, MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen's Medical Research Institute

The very high quality of all these candidates made it a challenging task for the judges to choose an eventual winner from amongst them.  However the calibre and impact of Wei Yuan's research on the Functional Characterisation of the Host Sterol Metabolic Network in the Interferon Antiviral Response, made him a worthy recipent of the prize.

Prof Tony Nash of the Roslin Institute, who was one of the judges, praised the intellectual contribution of Wei Yuan's work:

 His outstanding work on a novel anti-viral mechanism involving  interplay between the innate (interferon) response and cholesterol biosynthesis will impact on a wide range of infectious disease research"

Wei Yuan carried out his PhD under the supervision of Prof Peter Ghazal in the Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine, in the Chancellor's Building at Little France.  As part of his award Wei Yuan presented his work at the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases Annual Symposium at the Royal College of Physicians on 20 May 2015, and received a £500 prize.

Many congratulations!

Ker Memorial Lecturer 2015

In 2015 we were delighted to have Professor Helen McShane, University of Oxford as the 2015 Ker Memorial Lecturer, speaking on Development of Tuberculosis Vaccines.

Helen initially trained as a clinician and first became interested in tuberculosis and HIV while training as a physician in infectious disease.  She carried out her PhD with Professor Adrian Hill at the University of Oxford in 1997, during which time she successfully set up a number of pre-clinical models and constructed several candidate tuberculosis vaccines.  As a result of her work, Helen received a Wellcome Trust Clinician Science Fellowship in 2001, enabling her to start her own research group in Oxford, and complete her clinical training.  She is now Professor of Vaccinology, Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellow and Honorary Consultant in HIV and Genito-Urinary Medicine.  Since 2002, Helen’s group has conducted a series of clinical trials in the UK, The Gambia, South Africa, Senegal and Uganda, to investigate the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of candidate TB vaccines, including vaccines developed at the Jenner Institute, and a number of industry partners’ vaccines. 

Other current areas of her research include evaluating the effect of helminth infection on vaccine induced immune responses, studies to determine optimal TB vaccine delivery routes, development of a BCG challenge model in humans, and the evaluation of the protective efficacy of new antigens in viral vectors.

Past awardees of the Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture.


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