Posted by Gill Currie on 28 July 2011
Thank you to all the members who came with us to see Professor Rob Read at the University of Sheffield and find out more about some of the research he’s been doing into meningitis and septicaemia. We had a really good turnout, with 12 MRF members and 5 members of staff attending. It was a really interesting and inspiring day for everyone.
Once we’d managed to navigate Sheffield and find the Medical School (!) we settled down to hear about Professor Read’s work.
Professor Read started by introducing us to the problems being faced in meningitis and septicaemia research. The wide range of bugs that can cause disease, and the range of symptoms caused by different strains or ‘clones’ which makes it difficult to find an all encompassing treatment or vaccine.
Why these strains differ and why only some cause severe disease is a continuing and complex question for researchers to answer.
Professor Read also told us about how the patient’s immune response is an important area for research. Why do some people develop severe symptoms from strains of bugs that only cause mild or no disease in others?
Many of us had questions for Professor Read and there was plenty of discussion about how research is trying to answer some of these really important questions.
Professor Read then talked about his current MRF funded work in which he is looking at two aspects of meningococcal disease. The first is looking at how our immune system reacts to the MenC vaccine and whether booster doses might be needed to maintain protection in the teenage and young adult population. The second is looking at the way in which bacteria cause the devastating organ damage during septicaemia and how this knowledge may lead to an exciting new treatment.
After a cup of tea, Professor Read then showed us upstairs to the laboratory where we met his team who work on various aspects of his projects. We had the opportunity to ask the researchers more questions about what happens day-to-day in a research lab and saw some of the bacteria and cells they are working on.
We also had a chance to find out about their own motivations for working in meningitis research. As one researcher with some personal experience of meningitis put it to me “At the end of the day, it’s really inspiring to know you’ve made a small step towards making a difference to someone’s life”.
Many thanks go to Professor Read and his team for showing us what they do and for being so helpful and interesting in answering questions.
If you’re interested in attending a research site visit, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
to find out about future planned visits and how you can get involved.