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The University of Southampton
Medicine

Infection and Microbial Science

Infection and Microbial Science

Infectious disease remains a major challenge around the world and our scientists are leading pioneering research to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat some of the world’s most devastating conditions.

Our research into infectious disease encompasses public health, primary care, experimental medicine and basic scientific investigation and covers a wide spectrum of diseases that affect millions of people.

Our virology scientists focus on RNA viruses including rhinovirus, norovirus and coronaviruses as well as chronic infections such as Hepatitis C virus and HIV. Our bacterial research is centred on pathogenesis, pre-clinical development of vaccines and developing new treatment strategies for biofilm infections and the major causative organisms of bacterial meningitis and sepsis, and tuberculosis. The University hosts the world’s largest Chlamydia reference strain Biobank and have developed plasmid-based chlamydial genetic tools to understand virulence.

We have established important multi-disciplinary links with the Faculty’s Population Health and Healthy Ageing and Multi-Morbidity [MC2] research themes to further our infections disease research. For example, our teams are investigating the molecular epidemiology of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other vaccine-preventable bacterial infections, particularly in relation to polysaccharide conjugate vaccines and in the social and genetic epidemiology of Hepatitis C. In respiratory medicine, primary human cell models are utilised to investigate the pathogenesis of bacterial and viral infectious exacerbations in COPD, asthma, and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, as well as SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our Primary Care Research Centre leads a major research programme in appropriateness of antimicrobial therapy in primary care.

Southampton is one of few centres in the UK which conducts controlled human infection studies that will enable rapid evaluation of novel vaccines. For example, our scientists have pioneered the development of a nose drop containing a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that could help prevent meningitis and other infections and are leading the UK arm of a landmark European-wide study to develop a new vaccine to prevent whooping cough. Clinical vaccine trials are taking place in Southampton, which focus on the prevention and management of severe bacterial disease and respiratory infection in children and adults including candidate vaccines against meningococcal disease, malaria, pandemic influenza, and Covid-19.

Working with colleagues in Engineering, our researchers are developing rapid point-of-care diagnostics, including paper-based, microfluidic and optoelectronic technologies for respiratory, eye, and sexually transmitted infections.

Our scientists and clinical trials are supported through significant centres of excellence such as the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, the BBSRC National Biofilms Innovations Centre (NBIC) and an EPSRC-funded Network for Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP).

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