Prof Sir Dave Stuart, the Director of Life Sciences at Diamond Light Source and MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, and Head of the Division of Structural Biology at the Department of Clinical Medicine, has been awarded a Knighthood for his years of work in structural biology and his recent contributions to scientific understanding of COVID-19.
Among his accomplishments are producing the first high resolution structure of bluetongue virus and determining the structure of many other viruses, including foot-and-mouth disease virus. These fundamental structures are at the foundation of preventing viral spread and allow researchers to uncover how viral mechanisms work.
Prof Stuart is collaborating with The Pirbright Institute on numerous research projects, including developing a new foot-and-mouth disease vaccine. This vaccine works through production of small synthetic protein shells, or ‘virus like particles’ (VLPs), which produce an immune response. Precise knowledge of virus structure is required in order to produce the VLPs, resulting in a highly effective vaccine with fewer limitations on transport and storage than traditional vaccines.
The award of a Knighthood is a recognition of the achievements Prof Stuart has made throughout his career and the impact of his work on SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. His valuable contributions, both in furthering knowledge of fundamental virus structures and in establishing groups and organisations to promote life sciences, demonstrate the importance of experienced scientists working to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Pirbright's Director, Professor Bryan Charleston commented: "I was delighted to see Prof Dave Stuart receive a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list. Dave has been a great collaborator and friend of The Pirbright Institute for approximately 30 years, using the latest knowledge and technology to study the structures of major pathogens such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and bluetongue virus. This new knowledge underpins the development of a new safe and effective vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease."