Dr Nina Zhu, PhD, MPH, MSc, BEng, is the Research Lead for Population Health & Policy Theme in the National Institute of Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance. The HPRU is a partnership between Imperial College London, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Cambridge University, Warwick University and Imperial College Health Partners. The Unit was funded, along with 14 others in priority areas from immunisation to radiation hazards, to bring Universities to work in partnership with Public Health England to support excellent health protection research relevant to the needs of Public Health England. It commenced 01 April 2020 for a 5 year period and builds on the legacy of the previous HPRU which ran from 01 April 2014 -31 March 2020.
Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on infections, AMR, and antimicrobial use
Nina is currently working closely with the UKHSA HCAI, Fungal, AMR, AMU & Sepsis Division to use linked datasets at regional and national level to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the epidemiological patterns of infections emerged from acute care and the community, especially those ones caused by drug-resistant pathogens. Her work is also aimed to understand the impact of new prescribing guidelines and care provision methods (e.g. remote General Practice consultation) on antimicrobial consumption.
Nina is part of the WHO COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) R&D team, where she leads two research projects, "Investigating the burden of hospital onset COVID-19 infection (HOCI) and developing implementable surveillance systems to inform interventions and to enable recovery and resilience of acute healthcare provision" and "Understanding, monitoring and mitigating the impact of the pandemic on HCAI and antimicrobial resistance in in acute care, for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patient populations", where novel surveillance frameworks were developed to monitor hospital-onset COVID-19 and traditional HCAIs.
Applied data linkage and MODELLING
Nina is working with the UKHSA Primary Care Unit to assess underlying risk factors of infections from all settings in the community, and evaluate management and prescribing. This work has a focus on vulnerable patients, including those who lived in care homes or with multi-morbidities. Nina uses linked datasets across primary, secondary, and social care sectors to follow patient journeys and examine clinical and economic outcomes from a whole-health-economy perspective.
System Dynamics modelling
Nina's research interest also includes applying systems thinking modelling to examine doctors’ and patients' decision-making processes to inform design, implementation, and evaluation of antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) interventions. She aims to establish meta-methodology to help identify and develop optimal systems thinking tools, combined with other simulation methods, including discrete event simulation (DES), and agent-based modelling (ABM), to solve real-life problems in system management in general.
She is the mathematical modeller of the ESRC funded multi-national research project, ASPIRES (Antibiotic use across Surgical Pathways - Investigating, Redesigning and Evaluating Systems), to model the impact on patient, health systems, and health economic outcomes of interventions proposed to optimise antibiotic use along surgical pathways.
Before joining HPRU, she was a visiting researcher at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She has employed the same modelling methodology to investigate evidence in health system strengthening and healthcare intervention evaluation in low- and mid- income countries (LMICs).
Nina has a PhD in Clinical Medicine Research. Her doctoral research focused on investigating factors influencing doctors' antibiotic prescribing decision-making processes in secondary care using System Dynamics. Nina has a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) (hons) of Biomedical Engineering and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Imperial College London, and is a candidate of MSc in Economic Evaluation in Healthcare from City, University of London.
Zhu J, Holmes A, 2022, Changing patterns of bloodstream infections in the community and acute care across two COVID-19 epidemic waves: a retrospective analysis using data linkage, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol:75, ISSN:1058-4838, Pages:e1082-e1091
et al., 2021, Optimising antimicrobial use in humans-review of current evidence and an interdisciplinary consensus on key priorities for research, The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, Vol:7, ISSN:2666-7762, Pages:1-10
et al., 2021, Macro level influences on strategic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic – an international survey and tool for national assessments, Journal of Global Health, Vol:11, ISSN:2047-2978, Pages:1-11
et al., 2021, Macro level factors influencing strategic responses to emergent pandemics: a scoping review, Journal of Global Health, Vol:11, ISSN:2047-2978, Pages:1-16
et al., 2021, Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on primary care antibiotic prescribing in North West London across two epidemic waves, Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Vol:27, ISSN:1198-743X, Pages:762-768