Paul Heath  - PIDRG

A Day in the Life of... The Paediatrics Infectious Diseases Research Group (PIDRG)

Date: 30 November 2017

The Paediatric Infectious Diseases Research Group (PIDRG) is part of the Institute for Infection and Immunity, one of three Research Institutes at St George’s, University of London. The South London university has a strong link to St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, enabling effective clinical research.

Led by Professor Paul Heath (pictured) and Professor Mike Sharland, the PIDRG undertakes and supports a variety of projects and studies in children focusing on the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases, clinical vaccine trials in children and pregnant women, perinatal infections, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the optimisation of antimicrobial therapy in children. We collaborate closely with other clinical research groups at St George’s Hospital (SGH) – especially the Reproductive Health & Childbirth team led by Dr Asma Khalil.

Professor Paul Heath is Clinical Director of the St George’s Vaccine Institute, a specialist team within the Institute for Infection and Immunity. The first phase of the Institute opened in 1996 as a combined clinical, scientific and educational facility, with the final official opening in 1998 by HRH, The Princess Royal.

The focus of the Institute is on vaccines for children and pregnant women that will protect this vulnerable group against infectious diseases affecting communities in the UK and worldwide.

Members of the team include consultants, lecturers, research fellows, research nurses, and administrative staff. Each team member has a distinct role and no two days are ever the same!

For many of the research fellows and research nurses, a day will begin with screening for eligible patients. Professor Heath explains: "Our current studies require us to go to the postnatal wards to recruit mothers and babies for our different perinatal vaccine studies. In partnership with the research midwifery team we are currently gearing up to a busy period for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine studies in pregnant women."

As well as great links within the hospital, the Institute collaborates with other paediatric research departments across the UK. In particular, with the UK Paediatric Vaccine Group, which is composed of centres that each undertake paediatric vaccine research and clinical trials. Networks like these are essential for progressing in the fight against paediatric infectious diseases.

"We currently have several clinical vaccine trials that require some of the team to be out in the community on residential visits," said Professor Heath. "These are always busy but enjoyable days, creating a great chance for us to build stronger relationships with our participants. We have found that the home setting helps the participants to feel more at ease and comfortable with the whole process and this benefits the participating child and their parent(s) as well as our research team as it improves both recruitment into studies and retention of participants. Coupled with this is our new initiative in establishing a PPI group." For more on the PPI group read the article in this newsletter by Anna Calvert. 

Professor Heath concluded: "Our studies take us into other environments too; a recent large meningococcal carriage study took the team into secondary schools and colleges talking to teenagers and taking throat swabs from them - and similar studies are planned."

If you would like to visit the Institute for Infection and Immunity, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing!



  • Summary:
    Led by St George’s, University of London in South London, Professor Paul Heath (pictured) and Professor Mike Sharland, the PIDRG undertakes and supports a variety of projects and studies in children.
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    • Infectious Diseases and Microbiology
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