Richard (Dick) Hanson, Mat Upton, Amanda Wiley and Sophie Tauber
Richard (Dick) Hanson, partner of the late Christine King; Professor Mat Upton, Associate Head of School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Plymouth; Amanda Wiley, Christine's daughter; and PhD student, Sophie Tauber
A donation to the University of Plymouth in memory of a former lecturer has funded a student to research into her subject passion.
Christine King, who was a virologist and principal lecturer at the University from the 1980s until early 2000s, was passionate about her teaching and loved by her students.
Following her death in 2021, her family wanted to give a donation in her memory to causes that she supported and approached the University for ideas of legacy giving.
Knowing Christine’s love of teaching microbiology, the idea of funding a PhD student was proposed, and the family gave a generous amount to make it happen.
Now Sophie Tauber is benefitting from the opportunity and researching into the development of a vaccine against Group B strep – a bacteria that can be passed from mothers to babies during birth – and Christine’s family came to see the work in the lab first hand.

When you lose someone, you remember them in so many ways, but I knew we wanted some of mum’s legacy to benefit other people. She was so passionate about her teaching and, having been at the University for 20 years until her retirement, it seemed a great idea to approach them.

I’m so pleased we were able to fund Sophie’s PhD and we were lucky to see some of the work on a recent lab visit. The research happening across the University is life-changing, and it’ll be wonderful to see the outcome of this particular project.
Amanda Wiley, Christine’s daughter
Sophie’s research will explore the development of a vaccine against Group B strep – a bacteria usually harmless to adults, but potentially deadly to young children, which can be passed from mothers to babies during birth.
In order to prevent it from causing harm, antibiotics are administered to the mother during labour, and often to the baby following delivery.
However, with antibiotics gradually becoming less effective across medicine due to growing resistance, there is a move to find other ways of combatting bacterial disease – with a vaccine in this case the most promising solution.
Self-disseminating vaccines

I completed my undergraduate and masters degrees in biology so, when the timing was right to look for a PhD, I knew that I wanted to study in this area too. I’m originally from Hungary so having the support for my academic work while I relocate myself and my family has been invaluable.

Having a fully funded PhD here at the University of Plymouth is a wonderful opportunity and, when I came to learn that it was funded by a kind donation, I was a little overwhelmed. It was a real pleasure to meet Amanda and Dick, Christine’s partner, and I am keen to ensure we get some impactful results to share and implement.
Sophie Tauber, PhD student benefitting from the donation

We are so grateful for the donations we receive and the gift left in Christine’s memory is truly incredible.

Giving to the University enables our students and researchers to pursue new ideas and change the world – and in this case the work really could change the lives of so many people for the better.
Naomi Box
Head of Development and Alumni Relations

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