Expert in infectious diseases to call for improvements to research during epidemics

Posted by pt91 at Nov 17, 2015 11:11 AM |
Frank May Clinical Sciences Lecture 2015 to take place on 18 November

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 17 November 2015

The research response to epidemics has been slow and our attitude to carrying out research in the midst of infectious disease outbreaks needs to change, an expert in infectious diseases will argue at a lecture at the University of Leicester.

The University’s College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology will host Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, at its biennial Frank May Clinical Sciences Lecture on Wednesday 18 November. His talk on ‘Health research in the context of rapidly emerging public health threats’ will take place at 5.30pm in the Frank and Katherine May Lecture Theatre, Henry Wellcome Building, and is free and open to the public.

Dr Farrar is a clinician scientist who before joining the Wellcome Trust was, for eighteen years, Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, where his research interests were in infectious diseases and global health with a focus on emerging infections.

A key lesson from a series of epidemics of regional and global public health importance over the last decade has been that mounting critical health research in the context of epidemics is extremely challenging and invariably delayed. The research response has been cumbersome and slow despite years of preparations for a potentially devastating influenza pandemic of avian origin or the next SARS-like outbreak.

Dr Farrar said: “The failure to have coordinated, comparable data on public health interventions, clinical management and pathogenesis during epidemics means that we miss opportunities to define optimal interventions, treatment and vaccines and hence save lives.

“This has been a problem in all epidemics over the last fifteen years including SARS, swine flu and, most recently, Ebola. Unless we change our approach to research, the next epidemic will result in a similar missed opportunity with potentially devastating consequences.

“This is extremely challenging and will be very difficult to achieve, but we must achieve a new paradigm for research in the context of rapidly emerging public health threats and one appropriate to the sorts of challenges we will face in the 21st Century.”

A spokesperson for the University’s College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology said: “The College is eagerly anticipating this forthcoming lecture and we would encourage in particular those who have never attended this lecture series before to join us for a warm welcome.”

For more information or to book a place contact Mrs Vickie Boulter on 0116 2522962 or vjb21@le.ac.uk.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Jeremy Farrar is Director of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving human health. Jeremy is a clinician scientist who before joining the Trust was, for eighteen years, Director of

the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, where his research interests were in infectious diseases and global health with a focus on emerging infections.

He has published over 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers, mentored many dozens of students and fellows and served as chair on several advisory boards for governments and global organisations including the World Health Organization. He was named 12th in the Fortune list of 50 World’s Greatest Leaders in 2015.

Jeremy was appointed OBE in 2005 for services to Tropical Medicine, awarded the Memorial Medal and Ho Chi Minh City Medal from the Government of Vietnam and honoured by the Royal College Physicians UK and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of The Royal Society.

Jeremy is married with three children, he loves all sport and walking in the Alps.

The Frank May Prize Lectures and the Frank May Clinical Sciences Lectures

The Frank May Prize was endowed by Dr Frank May MBE. The prize is based on evidence of research excellence during the previous two years and evidence of outstanding promise for the future. It is awarded in competition in the University of Leicester College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology. To encourage and reward medical research Dr May has also established a biennial lecture given by a national or international speaker to an invited audience.

Dr May’s association with the University of Leicester dates back to 1982, when he was recommended to the University by the late Dr Mac Goldsmith and was appointed to the University Council in the 1980’s. He is a patron of arts and music both at the University and throughout the City of Leicester. Over more than 20 years he has been Trustee of the Medical Research Foundation (Medisearch), set up in the 1970s to support research within the Leicestershire teaching hospitals and the Medical School. He is the first life President of the Medical Research Foundation. He has held a number of Home Office appointments. Dr May was awarded an MBE in 1994 and the Freedom of the City of Leicester in 2001.

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