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Supporting research in the field of infection prevention and control (IPC) in healthcare has been a key HIS activity since 1986, when the first scholarships to support visits to overseas laboratories and organisations were awarded.
Since then, HIS has maintained a designated fund to support a variety of research and funding.
The level of funding is decided by HIS Council, and may vary from year to year depending on the quality of applications received and the overall financial
position of the Society. Currently, all grants are restricted to research undertaken in UK and Eire.
We have regularly awarded grants of up to £100,000 for major research projects and we are proud of our contribution to both the development of evidence in the field of infection prevention, and the support of the professional development of our members.
Below we have detailed the research we have funded, and we have included highlights from some of our grant holders.
Further information about our grants programme is available here
Dr Kate Walker, University of Nottingham
'Maternity services response to the COVID-19 pandemic: how PHE guidance was implemented and what we can learn for the future'
We want to investigate how well infection control guidelines have been followed in maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will use our findings to improve the advice available to maternity units and healthcare staff. In 2020 we experienced a global pandemic caused by a new virus which causes COVID-19 infection. The virus is much more infectious than the usual winter flu. It causes mild symptoms in most people but in some cases it has caused severe illness and even death. The virus spreads when people who are infected cough, sneeze, speak or sing whilst mixing with others. It can also live for a short time on objects or surfaces.
Infection control is always important in healthcare settings such as hospitals and surgeries, and it has been even more vital during the pandemic. Some health services have been reduced during this time in order to cut back on opportunities for infection, but this is not possible in maternity care. Midwives and obstetricians have had to adapt very quickly to the situation. Public Health England (PHE) issued emergency guidance for maternity services on how to reduce the spread of the virus. Putting this into practice has resulted in big changes to the way pregnant women are cared for. It has also had an impact on how often parents can visit their newborn babies when their baby has needed care on the neonatal unit.
We want to explore how maternity units have implemented PHE guidance on controlling the virus, including identifying problems, gaps and local solutions. This will help staff working in infection control to improve guidelines, procedures and practice ready for both a second spike of COVID-19 infections and any future pandemics.
We will run a national survey of all NHS maternity units, including birth centres, home birth services, consultant units and neonatal units. This will help us find out how national infection control guidance for reducing virus transmission has been put into practice, and what the guidance doesn’t cover. We will hold telephone or video interviews with staff working in maternity and neonatal units to explore their experience of working with the guidance in more depth. Once we have the results from the survey and interviews we will bring together an expert group to review them and develop a best practice guide for use during a future spike or pandemic. The expert group will include midwives, obstetricians, neonatologists, infection control specialists and parent reps.
This project will provide the NHS with comprehensive infection control guidance for maternity services to deal with a second spike of COVID-19 or future pandemic.
Dr Sarah Forbes, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield
"Transcriptomic analysis of biocide adaptation in uropathogenic Escherichia coli CFT073"
Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are amongst the most commonly acquired healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) contributing considerably to patient morbidity and mortality rates in addition to posing a substantial economic burden to the National Health Service. Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) are the most frequent cause of CAUTI. There has been significant interest in the development of strategies to help prevent CAUTI including the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials known as biocides as anti-infective catheter coating agents, however the long-term impact of biocide exposure on antimicrobial susceptibility and pathogenicity in UPEC is not clearly understood.
Long-term catheterisation is a commonly used management option for elderly patients. These patients are at an increased risk of developing CAUTI and associated secondary infections due to the hormonal, physiological and immunological effects of ageing. With an ageing population in the UK it is likely that the need for urinary catheters will continue to rise resulting in an increasing risk to the population. Additionally, the treatment of CAUTIs is becoming complicated by the emergence of uropathogens exhibiting multiple antibiotic resistances. In Europe and the US 50,000 people a year lose their lives due to antibiotic resistant pathogens with that number rising to 700,000 worldwide. This number is predicted to reach 10 million deaths by 2050 if alternative therapies are not found. The development of an anti-infective catheter coating that avoids the use of antibiotics, reduces the need for antibiotic treatment and maintains good antimicrobial efficacy after prolonged use, is therefore invaluable to sustain patient health and promote healthy living.
It is widely documented that long-term exposure to biocides may lead to the induction of biocide resistance in bacteria. In contrast, it has also been documented that biocide exposure may induce phenotypic changes in bacteria reducing growth rate, changing surface-colonisation and impacting pathogenicity. This highlights the multiple consequences of biocide adaptation in UPEC which need to be evaluated when developing an effective anti-infective urinary catheter coating.
We have previously evaluated the impact of long-term exposure to a panel of commonly used biocides in 8 strains of UPEC. Specifically, we have determined the effects upon i) biocide susceptibility ii) bacterial biofilm formation (ability to adhere to the catheter surface) and iii) relative pathogenicity. We discovered that, whilst biocide exposure led to reductions in biocide susceptibility, bacteria remained susceptible to in-use biocide concentrations. Furthermore after biocide adaptation, UPEC often exhibited reductions in both their ability to form biofilms on the catheter surface and their ability to cause an infection in a Galleria mellonella waxworm model.
The proposed research project aims to understand the biological mechanisms that underpin biocide adaptation in a highly virulent, multi-drug resistant UPEC isolate CFT073 using RNAsequencing. This data will provide understanding into how exposure to biocides can impact antimicrobial susceptibility, biofilm formation and ability to cause an infection in this common uropathogen. Significantly, these data will allow us to determine which biocide would be the most appropriate to incorporate into a novel long-lasting anti-infective catheter coating to reduce the incidence of CAUTI.
Dr Toney Thomas Poovelikunnel, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin
'The safety and tolerability evaluation of a novel mupirocin formulation on patients colonised with oro-nasal methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a randomised phase II trial.'
Carriage or colonisation with the bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), and the antibiotic-resistant type, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) place patients at an increased risk of infection. Among hospitalised patients MRSA carriage is estimated at 7-10%. MRSA eradication remains a significant challenge with nose and non-nasal sites frequently colonised. The antibiotic mupirocin remains the cornerstone for eradication of nasal MRSA and for extra nasal sites the antiseptic chlorhexidine is recommended. However, decolonisation success using mupirocin and chlorhexidine is sub-optimal.
Movement of staphylococci between the nose and the oral cavity is well documented. It is believed that the oral/throat cavity often contains MRSA, meaning that applying antibiotic to the nose only is unlikely to eliminate the bacteria. This not only promotes nasal re-colonisation but also contributes to antimicrobial resistance following repeated use of mupirocin. We have been successful in developing a new formulation of the antibiotic mupirocin to eradicate MRSA simultaneously from both the nose and throat/oral cavity. A randomised clinical trial will be used to test if the mupirocin formulation works as intended and is safe.
Dr Lena Ciric, University College London
"Developing hospital surface sampling protocols for better IP&C"
Hospital surfaces are often contaminated with dangerous bacterial, fungal and viral organisms that can cause harm to patients. Patients who are particularly unwell are at the highest risk of infection because their immune system is likely to be compromised. Microbes within hospitals are also more likely to be resistant to treatment like antibiotics, so preventing infections caused by such organisms is very important.There are many studies on how hand washing can help prevent the spread of infectious microbes between patients. There is also guidance for hospital staff on when and how to wash their hands. However, there is no guidance on how to sample hospital surfaces. In the past, hospital surfaces were not thought to play a role in the spread of infectious microbes. However, more recently, many studies have found dangerous microbes on hospital surfaces, but none have linked this to the risk of infection in patients. These studies have also been done many in different ways so it is impossible to compare them directly or draw conclusions. The aim of this project is to collect evidence that will lead to the design of surface sampling methods that can be suited to any hospital. The methods designed will vary in cost and the time, as well as the level of detail in the results. However, all the methods will be able to uncover the level of risk the surfaces may pose to patients.
The first step in the project will be to collect many samples from different surfaces in the hospital. This will be done in four different types of wards in Great Ormond Street Hospital every month for one year. The samples will be taken at various locations (e.g. near the patients, far from the patients, in the staff areas, from different materials, etc). The samples will be screened for the presence of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. DNA-based methods will also be used to look at the whole communities present on the surfaces, not just those organisms that can grow on microbiological media. In parallel, data will be collected about how the surfaces sampled were cleaned. In addition, information about infections that patients had in the sampled areas will also be collected. Finally, all of this data will be combined to find trends and show which surface samples are the most important ones to take.
To make useful training and guidance materials, the project team will consult with clinicians, cleaners, patients and their parents to find out what they know about the risk the hospital environment can pose to patient health. This will be done though informal conversations, workshops and questionnaires and will be used to help to produce guidance to inform policy groups such as NICE, design training for hospital staff and cleaners and materials to help inform patients and the public. The project will take a systematic approach in order to collect evidence on how best to carry out hospital surface sampling leading to better practice and, consequently, better patient outcomes.
Professor Heather Loveday, University of West London
"Preventing non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia: the PRHAPs Study"
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs and is usually caused by a bacteria. Non-Ventilator Hospital-acquired Pneumonia (NV-HAP) develops in people who have been hospitalised (typically after several days) while being treated for another illness or having an operation. (NV-HAP) is defined as pneumonia occurring in patients who acquired pneumonia during their hospital stay but who have not acquired the pneumonia as a result of being on a ventilator in the critical care/intensive care unit. All patients admitted to hospital have some risk of developing NV-HAP but some patients, such as older adults, are at higher risk, particularly if they have had a stroke or are physically very frail. NV-HAP is an important cause of serious illness and sometimes death. If a patient develops NV-HAP it requires treatment with antibiotics and also increases the length of time they will have to stay in hospital. Strategies to prevent NV-HAP include frequent mouth care, increasing mobilisation, elevating the head of the bed and reviewing medications. However, we currently do not have a simple way of identifying which patients are most prone to developing NV-HAP and would therefore benefit from such care strategies. Healthcare professionals already undertake a number of routine assessments of patients’ health, for example their risk of falling or developing a pressure sore. This project aims to use this routinely available information to develop a method of identifying those patients who are at high risk of developing NV-HAP.
The project will involve collecting information from the case notes of elderly patients previously admitted to two acute NHS Hospital Trusts. We will exclude patients who have been in intensive care or have been admitted to hospital with pneumonia. We will identify patients who developed NV-HAP during their stay in hospital and similar patients (controls) who did not develop NV-HAP. We will compare cases with controls by looking through case notes and identifying which patients had factors (for example: whether they had any existing problems such as swallowing or breathing difficulties, a history of falls and/or poor mobility) that might have increased their risk of developing NV-HAP.
We will also undertake a survey of healthcare practitioners working in hospitals to find out if they are currently using any strategies to prevent NV-HAP. This survey will be followed with a more in-depth discussion with a smaller group of healthcare professionals and patient/public participants to evaluate both the practicality of the method for identifying patients at risk of NV-HAP and the feasibility of strategies for its prevention.
Dr Nicola Irwin, Queen's University Belfast
"Combatting device-associated, healthcare-associated infections with innovative, anti-biofouling, anti-blocking and non-resistance-promoting technologies"
Urinary tract infections constitute the most common infections acquired in healthcare settings, of which 43% to 56% are associated with bacterial colonisation of indwelling catheters. Instead of freely draining urine from the bladder, these devices frequently constitute reservoirs for multidrug-resistant pathogens and become repeatedly blocked in up to 50% of chronically-catheterised patients, necessitating early and painful catheter removal, and making their high prevalence of use a leading cause of illness, extended hospital stays, unplanned readmissions, additional healthcare expenditure, and potential mortality. Currently, there is no approach which meaningfully addresses the urgent clinical need to prevent recurrent blockages and reduce the significant level of infection and costs associated with urological device use.
Encrustation and blockages result from crystals of calcium and magnesium phosphates which form in the urine and accumulate on the device surface as urine pH elevates in the presence of urease-producing pathogens, including Proteus mirabilis, as a result of urease-catalysed hydrolysis of urea to ammonia. Through investigation of the antibacterial and anti-encrustation activities of novel non-resistance-promoting active agents, this multifaceted project will develop transformational new strategies to combat the escalating incidence of device-related infections, blockages, trauma and pain, thereby reducing their associated economic burden and ultimately improving healthcare globally.
The outcomes of this project are, in addition, anticipated to inform the further development of innovative infection-resistant healthcare technologies and lead to identification of novel, urgently needed, non-antibiotic agents to be used in the prevention and treatment of a wide spectrum of global healthcare-associated infections.
Dr Razan Saman, St James University Hospital, Leeds [starts August 2021] Strategies to prevent transmission of Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase Enterobacterales
Dr Katie Prescott, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust Trainee Journal Editor and Trainee Infection Prevention and Control Doctor
Dr Chris Lynch, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield Trainee Journal Editor and theatre aspects of infection control
Dr Bozena (Jenny) Poller, Northern General Hospital
Design and establish a UK PPE Model and National PPE Simulation Program.
Dr Emma Wiley, University College Hospital London
Develop specialism in infection control with the aim to become a Consultant Microbiologist and Infection Control Doctor.
Dr Nikunj Mahida, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Develop the skills and competencies to work as an assistant editor for JHI.
Dr Damian Mawer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals
Audit and practical IPC training/experience.
Dr Eftihia Yiannakis, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Cystic fibrosis Centre - Environmental contamination by respiratory pathogens, infection control and guideline development.
Dr Caroline Chilton, University of Leeds
"Development of a rapid, cost effective algorithim to improve detection of intestinal carbapenemase producing Enterobacteriaceae"
Dr Ginny Moore, Public Health England
"Mycobacterium chimaera contamination of heater-cooler units: a hybrid product of water and engineering"
Dr Michael Prentice, University College Cork
"Real-time Monitoring of Biological Airborne Particles in the Hospital Environment (ReM-BAPHE)"
Prof Jean-Yves Maillard, Cardiff University
"Effect of commonly used antimicrobial biocides in healthcare"
Dr Jimmy Walker, Public Health England
"Impact of tap design on Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm formation and presence of other waterborne nosocomial pathogens"
Dr Edward Cartwright, University of Cambridge
“Improving the detection of MRSA transmission events: a comparison of automated patient location data plus antimicrobial susceptibility patterns compared to whole genome sequencing"
Dr Eoghan O'Neill, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin
"Investigation of novel therapeutics to prevent and treat intravascular catheter infections caused by staphylococci using a combination of in vitro and animal models"
Dr John Edmunds, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
“Modelling the population-level and cost-effectiveness of Clostridium difficile vaccination as part of an integrated healthcare associated infection prevention and control strategy.”
Dr Thomas Smith, Sheffield Hallam University
“Molecular microbial ecology of hospital ward environments: a new tool to understand the role of the environment in HAIs.”
Dr David Tetard, Northumbria University
“Synthesis and study of iron(iii) strong chelator as antimicrobial supplements to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria on hospital equipment and hard surfaces.”
Dr B V Jones, University of Brighton
"Elucidation of mechanisms required for the pathogenesis of Proteus mirabilis in the catheterised urinary tract through large scale random transposon mutagenesis."
Professor Peter Griffiths, King's College London, University of London
"’Somebody else’s problem’: a study to identify and determine the significance of attributional bias in the control and prevention of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) healthcare settings.”
Dr Jacqueline Randle, The University of Nottingham
“Involving patients and visitors in reducing Clostridium difficile cross-transmission via the use of technologies.”
Dr Dietrich Mack, The University of Wales, Swansea
"Quorum-sensing accessory gene regulator (agr)-specificity groups in Staphylococcus epidermidis strains isolated from prosthetic hip and knee joint and catheter infections."
Dr Jean Yves Maillard, Welsh School of Pharmacy
"Surveillance of antiseptic susceptibility profile of Staphyloccocus aureus ITU isolates including MRSA."
Dr Felicity Fitzgerald, UCL Great Ormond Street and Institiute of Child Health, London
"Reducing mortality from neonatal sepsis: a pilot mixed-methods approach in Zimbabwe"
Dr Katie Hardy, Public Health Laboratory, Birmingham
"Attack of the clones? Implementation of whole genome sequencing to determine spread of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium in a high-risk healthcare setting."
Dr Matthew Scarborough, Oxford University Hospitals "Reducing Implant Infection in Orthopaedics (RIIi0) Pilot Study"
Professor Jean-Yves Maillard, Cardiff University "Seeking dry surface biofilm in healthcare environments; is this a reservoir for multi drug resistant pathogens?"
Dr Shanom Ali, University College London Hospital "Discovery of compounds with the potential to disrupt biiofilm-formation on medical devices and surfaces colonised with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria"
Prof Peter Hawkey, University of Birmingham
“The molecular epidemiology of CTX-M antibiotic resistance genes and the faecal microbiome of humans acquiring ESBL - producing Enterobacteriaceae.”
Dr Ed Moran, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust
“The Impact of community antibiotic treatment.”
Dr Katie Hardy, Public Health Laboratory Birmingham
"Investigating and defining reduced susceptibility."
Prof Edward Feil, University of Bath
“The development of a next-generation sequencing approach for inferring colonisation and transmission dynamics of multiple Staphylococcus spp. recovered from a burns unit.”
Dr Mathew Upton, Plymouth University
“Investigating the role of healthcare workers in MRSA outbreaks using genome sequence analysis”
Dr Nikunj Mahida, Nottingham University Hospitals
"Investigating the effect of clinical anaesthetic practice on bacterial contamination of intravenous fluids and drugs."
Dr Monika Muzslay, University College London Hospitals
"ESBL - producing Gram negative organisms in the healthcare environment as a source of genetic material for resistance in human infections."
Dr Alice M Turner, University of Birmingham
"Use of early mobilisation to reduce incidence of hospital acquired pneumonia in medical inpatients."
Dr Micheál Mac Aogáin, Trinity College Dublin
"Molecular epidemiology and transcriptome sequencing of Irish Clostridium difficile isolates to investigate gene expression patterns associated with disease severity."
Dr Cariad Evans, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
"The molecular epidemiology of RSV and Parainfluenza 3 in a bone marrow transplant unit: clinical, infection control and cost implications of nosocomial transmission."
Dr Andrew Conway Morris, University of Edinburgh
"Pan-bacterial PCR for rapid diagnosis of ventilator-associated pneumonia"
Dr Eftihia Yiannakis, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
“Decontamination of the healthcare environment following outbreaks of Norovirus: chlorine-based cleaning versus hydrogen peroxide misting.”
Dr Shanom Ali, UCLH Environmental Research Laboratory
“The in-use assessment of electrolysed-oxidizing (EO) water and chemically-generated hypochlorous acid (HA).”
Dr Eamonn Trainor, Royal Liverpool University Hospital
“Norovirus shedding and infectivity in hospitalised adult patients with acute gastroenteritis – A Pilot study at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital (RLUH).”
Elaine Cloutman-Green, Great Ormond Street Hospital
“Development of Adenovirus detection and typing systems to investigate the contribution of environmental contamination, cleaning and human behaviour in cross transmission.”
Ashley McEwan, Manchester Royal Infirmary
“Multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) for real-time investigation of Staphylococcus aureus transmission in the hospital setting.”
Dr Katherine Cartwright, Leicester Royal Infirmary
“Why are there an increasing number of Klebsiella pneumoniae bloodstream infections in Leicestershire? A combined case-control/molecular biological investigation.”
Dr Sue Lang, Glasgow Caledonian University
“Mapping the dynamic transmission of Staphylococcus aureus in near patient areas of acute care wards.”
Dr Stephen Winchester, Kings College Hospital
“A questionnaire based study of healthcare workers perceptions concerning occupational exposure to blood borne viruses and the possible barriers involved in reporting incidents.”
Dr Steve Green, Southampton General Hospital (HPA SW)
“Longitudinal study of the molecular epidemiology and virulence of extended spectrum ß -lactamase-producing Escherichia coli (ESBL).”
Dr Ginny Moore, University College London Hospitals
“Effect of disposable glove type upon the cross-transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.”
Dr Lindsay Parker, University Hospital Aintree
“Use of probiotic yoghurt to prevent diarrhoea in critical care: a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial.”
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, University of Nottingham
“What is the association between specific infection control interventions and the incidence of HCAI?”
Professor Judith Tanner, De Montfort University
“Patients’ preferences for hand washing interventions.”
Professor Mark Pallen, University of Birmingham
“Translational genomics: next-generation genome sequencing as a tool to study the biology and epidemiology of Acinetobacter baumannii in an English teaching hospital.”
Dr A Galloway, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust
“Investigation of the value of monitoring serum galactomannan and (1,3)-ß D glucan in the early diagnosis of invasive fungal infection in immunocompromised patients during building work.”
Dr R Brady, University of Edinburgh
"Not to be sniffed at; Nasal MRSA colonisation in contemporary NHS doctors.”
Professor P O’Neill, Nottingham University
“Mathematical and statistical modelling of multiply antibiotic-resistant pathogens in hospital settings.”
Dr R Brady, University of Edinburgh
“Technological growth: Contamination of surgeon’s possessions with bacteria known to cause noscomial infection.”
Dr K Stephenson, University of Leeds
“Spore formation and the responses of clinically significant Clostridium difficile strains to exposure to hospital decontamination and disinfection agents.”
Dr F Sundram, Royal Surrey County Hospital
“C. difficile ribotypes 027 and 106: Risk factors and clinical outcomes.”
Dr D Wareham, Queen Mary, University of London
“Action of commercial alcohol handrubs on the growth and secretion of extracellular proteins from the Acinetobacter baumannii OXA-23 outbreak strain.”
Dr A Adedeji, Birmingham Children’s Hospital
“MRSA in children presenting to hospitals in Birmingham: what might ‘community associated MRSA’ be?”
Dr G Phillips, Ninewells Hospital
“Using compliance loggers to monitor the use of alcohol-based personal hand gels at Ninewells.”
Dr M Llewellyn, University of Sussex
“Invasive Staphylococcus aureus infection; clinical outcomes and microbial epidemiology.”
Dr E Sheridan, Barts and The London Hospital
“An analysis of space/time clustering of nosocomial infections in Intensive Care to identify key areas for Infection Control intervention.”
Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green, Great Ormond Street Hospital
“Investigation of cross transmission by Enterobacteriaceae.”
Dr Vassiliki Dimou, Health Protection Agency
"Molecular epidemiology of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in a tertiary-care hospital."
Dr Simon Friar, Health Protection Agency Public Health Laboratory
"Molecular investigation of multi-drug resistant Enterobacter isolates, and screening of MDR coliforms for common resistance gene markers."
Mr Samford Wong, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
"Do probiotics prevent antibiotics associated diarrhoea in patients with spinal cord injuries: a randomised controlled trial."
Over the last 5 years, 37 applications have been received and 8 applicants have been awarded a grant (success rate of 22%).
Over the last 2 years, 2 applications have been received and no applicants have been offered funding (success rate of 0%).
Over the last 5 years, 13 applications have been received and 6 applicants have been offered a fellowship (success rate of 46%).
Over the last 5 years, 52 applications have been received and 6 grants have been awarded (success rate of 12%).