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Exeter researcher wins Philip Leverhulme Prize

A University of Exeter researcher has been named among the winners of the 2020 Philip Leverhulme Prizes.

Professor Edze Westra is one of the 30 winners, who will each receive £100,000 to advance their research.

His work focusses on the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions, and he received the award in the Biological Sciences category.

The Philip Leverhulme Prizes are given each year to researchers whose work has "already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising".

Professor Westra, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said: "Receiving the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize in Biological Sciences is a great honour.

"I would like to share this success with my collaborators and lab members whose hard work and dedication has been key for this achievement.

"I also would like to share this success with my colleagues at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter, specifically those at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation and the Environment and Sustainability Institute, for the stimulating and inspiring work environment they create.

"The funds associated with this prize will be used to pursue new and exciting lines of phage research, to understand how these viruses replicate, evolve and coevolve with their bacterial host.

"This prize and the new line of research it will support further strengthens the thriving microbiology community at the University of Exeter."

Professor Neil Gow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at the University of Exeter, said: “Professor Westra’s work has been recognised for its outstanding insight into how bacteria viruses interact and how bacteria defend themselves against virus attack.

"His work not only provides critical new information, but also open up opportunities to exploit this information in designing new ways for humans to resist infections from microbes.

"The University of Exeter is delighted to have a hugely talented research base of microbiologists such as Edze Westra who are making major contributions in the biomedical and ecological sciences.”

Date: 21 October 2020