Symposium sets new direction for infectious diseases research at Imperial


Professor Wendy Barclay

Professor Wendy Barclay

Infectious diseases experts shared their latest work at an annual research symposium hosted at Imperial’s Hammersmith Campus last month.

The day-long event drew 150 attendees who heard from experts from across the field of infectious diseases research. As well as providing the opportunity to showcase recent projects within the Division, the symposium also looked forward to the creation of the new Department of Infectious Disease this August. 

New horizons 

Professor Wendy Barclay, who was recently announced as Head of the new Department, called upon members of the Division to help define its direction and priorities. Opening the symposium’s second session of talks, Professor Barclay explained that the creation of the Department of Infectious Disease would enable “better collaboration between clinical and non-clinical staff, and a more cohesive grouping of like-minded scientists”. She added that the Department would aim to be the “go-to place for expert advice on infectious diseases” and would commit itself to “training the next generation of researchers in the field.” 

As well as setting the future agenda for infectious diseases research at Imperial, the symposium provided an overview of key findings and projects in the Division over the past twelve months. Covering a number of specialities – including retrovirology, molecular virology, paediatrics, and microbiology – speakers from across the board were invited to give 15 minutes insights into their recent work. 

  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Keynote speaker Dr Guillaume Fournié

    Keynote speaker Dr Guillaume Fournié

  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Symposium attendees
  • Keynote speaker Professor the Honourable Richard Tedder

    Keynote speaker Professor the Honourable Richard Tedder

Research highlights: as it happened

  • Opening the symposium, Dr Raheelah Ahmad made the case for using systems approaches to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at a national level. She explained: “These methodologies allow us to capture complexity, influence and feedback in regard to the implementation of AMR policies and incentives.”
  • Dr Goedele Maertens discussed promising research findings which suggest that integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs) – a form of antiretroviral drug currently used to tackle HIV-1 infection – could potentially be repurposed to treat HTLV-1.
  • Looking at new ways to target tuberculous (TB) meningitis – a life-threatening infectious disease that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord – Dr Rachel Lai explained: “A multi-omics approach to characterising TB meningitis can be useful for biomarker discovery, to investigate mechanisms of pathogenesis, and to generate new hypotheses."
  • The first keynote lecture of the day was given by Dr Guillaume Fournié (Royal Veterinary College) and focussed on how changes to modes of production and commerce in the food industry have affected animal-to-human (zoonotic) transmission of infectious diseases. On remedying the threat of future pandemics, Dr Fournié explained: “Mitigation requires holistic interventions tailored for local situations. We need to go beyond technical interventions when it comes to preventing the spread of zoonotic infectious diseases, such as avian flu. It's essential to understand the daily practices and economic decisions of traders to effect behavioural change.”
  • Kicking off the symposium’s afternoon session, Dr Vanessa Sancho-Shimizu discussed her research into the important relationship between the protein TBK1, autophagy and cell viability in herpes infection.
  • From Russia to Peru, Professor Francis Drobniewski took a global look at how different health economies manage tuberculosis and the broader public health problems posed by the disease in these settings.
  • The second and final keynote lecture of the day was given by Professor the Honourable Richard Tedder. Professor Tedder, now Visiting Professor at Imperial’s Department of Medicine, shared insights into his long and varied career in science, from starting out as a zoologist at Cambridge University to laying the groundwork for the first commercially-developed HIV test and securing his legacy as a world-leading virologist.

Find out more about research in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Imperial.


Ms Genevieve Timmins

Ms Genevieve Timmins
Academic Services

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Antibiotics, Bacteria, Public-health, Tuberculosis, Infectious-diseases, Global-health, Vaccines, Viruses, HIV/AIDS, Lung-disease, Research
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