Menna has won a prestigious EFIS-IL (European Federation of Immunological Societies-Immunology Letters) Lecture Award (a bronze medal depicting two early pioneers of immunology, Paul Ehrlich and Elie Metchnikoff) and an invitation to speak at the Scandinavian Society of Immunology Annual General Meeting in Norway where she received the award. The nominating body described Menna as
“a true clinician scientist of the 21st century – continuously pushing boundaries of biomedical insight at the interface of fundamental immunology, clinical immunology and systems precision medicine”.
Menna’s group is focused on B cell activation and the regulation of antibody function in different parts of the body. Menna’s EFIS-IL lecture had a major focus on work her group recently published in the journal Immunity. This publications describes the cause of ulcerative colitis (UC), having identified a causal genetic antibody receptor variant. The variant can lead to immune cells being inappropriately activated when antibodies bind to natural gut bacteria. The findings also challenged the previous idea that IgG antibodies are inconsequential in the gut, where IgA is more common, and could provide a new target for clinical intervention.
Menna has previously been awarded the British Renal Association Raine Award and the Medical Research Society Young Investigator Award for her work on auto-immunity and defense against infection.