WH Pierce 2019: Lindsay Hall

Exploring the first contact between microbe and their host during the early life developmental window

Each year we award the prestigious W H Pierce Prize to a young microbiologist who‘s made a substantial contribution to the science of applied microbiology.

This year we are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 W H Pierce Prize is Dr. Lindsay Hall, Research Leader of the School of Life Sciences, Quadram Institute.

Asked about her current work, Lindsay explained:

“My research involves exploring the first contact between microbe and their host during the early life developmental window, with the aim of understanding how these microbial communities, and specific keystone members like Bifidobacterium, help digest the food that we eat, programme our immune system and help fight pathogenic microbes.

I am keen to understand the mechanisms by which these microbes provide these benefits, using cutting-edge experimental and computational tools, with the ultimate aim of developing new microbiome-based therapies to prevent and treat disease.”

Shocked and thrilled

Lindsay will be attending the SfAM and Fems Congress 2019 in Glasgow, where she’ll give a lecture on her work.

Asked how she feels about winning, Lindsay said:

“I am thrilled and honoured to have been awarded the WH Pierce Prize. I have to say it came as a complete shock and I feel very humbled to have been nominated and selected for this prestigious prize awarded by the Society for Applied Microbiology.

The prize, and the recognition from the wider research community, has further cemented my desire to continue our applied microbiology research, and push forward to see what other exciting findings are on the horizon, with a long-term focus on trying to make a difference in the context of human health.”

Awesome microbes

Last years winner was Sarah Coulthurst and previous recipients of the WH Pierce Prize include Jack Gilbert, Nicola Stanley-Wall and Brendan Gilmore. The award was instituted in 1984 by the directors of Oxoid to commemorate the life and works of the late W H (Bill) Pierce, former Chief Bacteriologist of Oxo Ltd and a long-time member of the Society.

Lindsay explained why sharing the intricacies of microbiology remains a passion for her:

“As a microbiologist I am always in awe of how microbes are so fundamentally important to our everyday lives.  From maintaining and regulating our global environment, harnessing microbes for the food that we eat, and closer to home; both pathogenic and beneficial microbes. It is the latter that has been the focus of my lab for the last few years – with our work concentrating on our resident gut microbes and why they are so important for host wellbeing. The fact that the gut is home to the densest ecosystem on the planet is fascinating and a bit crazy!

"Alongside our research, I feel passionately about engaging wider audiences about the microbiome and the world of microbiology and science. I think communication of what we do as researchers is so important; to educate, inform and excite others!”

Lindsay will be presenting her work and receiving the prize at the SfAM and FEMS Congress 2019