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Many congratulations to Alba Rodriguez Meira and Ioannis Akoumianakis for winning this year's RDM graduate prize.

Sheldonian theatre photo

Find out more about our award winners:

PhotoAlba Rodriguez-Meira completed her DPhil under the supervision of Professors Adam Mead and Sten Eirik Jacobsen at the Molecular Haematology Unit (WIMM), where she characterized the genetic and molecular heterogeneity of leukemic stem cells, which give rise to blood cancer. Alba pioneered the development of a new single-cell sequencing method that correlates mutations, cell surface proteomics and whole transcriptome analysis from the same cell (TARGET-seq).

This uniquely allowed her to resolve the molecular signatures of genetically-distinct leukaemic stem cells in patients with myelofibrosis. Ultimately, this led to the identification of therapeutic vulnerabilities specifically affecting mutant cells, which could help develop better therapeutic strategies for patients with blood cancer. The technique has been widely adopted in many laboratories in the world, and has resulted in many collaborations both at the MRC WIMM and internationally. In addition to her academic work, Alba is also an active member of Spanish Researchers in the UK, where she organizes scientific and outreach events, and a member of the International Society of Experimental Hematology Publications Committee. Find out more about her work

Portrait photoIoannis Akoumianakis's keen interest in cardiovascular research was expressed early on during his training as a medical student at the University of Crete, Greece. In 2014, after completing his medical studies, he came to Oxford to read for a DPhil in Cardiovascular Medicine under the supervision of Professors Charalambos Antoniades and Keith Channon, exploring the crosstalk between metabolism and vascular disease.

Ioannis' research was also the first to characterise the consequences of vascular insulin signalling in humans with atherosclerosis, where he found that insulin had a detrimental, Janus-like effect on the vascular wall, which was determined by the presence of vascular insulin resistance, and it was reversed by dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors, a class of drugs commonly used in the treatment of diabetes. Find out more about his work