Clinical Academic Training

Epidemiology and Public Health - Respiratory Medicine/Infectious Diseases/Medical Microbiology

Diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers and characterisation of immunological responses in acute respiratory infection


  • Professor Manish Pareek
  • Professor Pranab Haldar
  • Professor Andrea Cooper
  • Professor Julian Tang
  • Dr Amandip Sahota

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has caused over 3 million deaths globally. Whilst current concerns regarding COVID-19 predominate, seasonal epidemics of influenza, one of the main drivers for winter pressures, remains a public health threat.

The University of Leicester has been one of the leading academic institutions in the UK for COVID-19 research. This team has been awarded a UKRI/NIHR grant >£2 million to investigate the observed disparity of severe COVID-19 in people of ethnic minorities, including through immunophenotyping. One key challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic was the need for a rapid and accurate diagnostic test for patients hospitalised with respiratory symptoms and assessing their risk of further deterioration. Analysis of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a newly emerging approach to the diagnosis of infection and has the advantage of being – non-invasive, rapid, portable, and can be completed by non-laboratory staff. VOCs provide a unique profile of the body's metabolic milieu, which can be utilised as a diagnostic test and disease severity marker. The University has a skilled group of clinical and analytical researchers with strengths in VOC research from the EMBER group and BELIEVE study.

Two projects will be available:

  • The characterisation of the VOC signature of inpatients with respiratory infections of both bacterial and viral origin and assess its potential as a diagnostic test and marker of disease severity against previous work conducted as part of the BELIEVE study.
  • Characterisation of the acute COVID-19 and influenza immune response in parallel to investigate the immunopathology of both infections. We will use blood collected from inpatients admitted with COVID-19 and influenza for T-cell immunophenotyping and blood RNA transcriptomics. The study will utilise previous data from the DIRECT study and a pilot study in hospitalised patients with COVID-19.

In both projects the ACF will be involved in patient recruitment, data analysis and receive tailored training in study design, statistics and bioinformatics.

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