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Dr Claire Smith

Dr Claire Smith

Non-Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Paediatrics

ICH Infect, Imm, Infla. & Physio Med

UCL GOS Institute of Child Health

Joined UCL
1st Feb 2012

Research summary

The WHO estimates that RSV causes 64 million infections and 160,000 deaths annually, with a surge in cases each winter correlating with increased emergency admissions. There is currently no treatment available. Claire’s research aims to improve our understanding of, and develop new treatment strategies for respiratory virus infections.

Her current research explores how RSV targets the airway, whether immune cells (neutrophils) contribute to damage caused to the airway’s first line of defence, the ciliated epithelial cells, and how this is exacerbated in bacterial co-infection.

Teaching summary

Claire is co-director of the first Masters in Research (MRes) in Child Health. She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and has experience in the design and delivery of lectures to the MSc students at Leicester and UCL.

Biography

Claire is a Lecturer in Respiratory Child Health at University College London. Her research aims to improve our understanding of, and develop new treatments for childhood respiratory virus and bacterial infections.

 

She graduated in Medical Microbiology from the University of Surrey in 2001. She went on to complete her PhD with the University of Leicester in 2005, which investigated the use of novel vaccines against Streptococcus pneumoniae, a common bacteria that causes pneumonia. Following a career break, she returned to a Research Associate position working on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and S. pneumoniae co-infection of the airway. This involved developing specialized cell culture techniques using differentiated human airway epithelial cells. The main paper describing these results was published in the top respiratory journal, The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


In January 2012, she moved to UCL GOS Institute of Child Health where she established and continues to manage a research tissue bank to obtain and supply researchers with valuable human respiratory material. This fantastic resource facilitates different projects focused on respiratory diseases and infections across UCL and externally. She was appointed as a Lecturer when she returned to work following a period of maternity leave in 2015. Her current research explores how RSV targets the airway and whether the immune cells (neutrophils) that are recruited as the airway’s first line of defense, contribute to damage caused. She is currently funded by ESCMID and the Wellcome Trust and she is working closely with industrial partners to test novel and combination antiviral therapies against RSV.


Claire has taken three career breaks since she obtained her PhD and she is a strong supporter of EDI issues - encouraging the most creative and talented minds to stay in science.

 

For more info visit her group page http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ich/research/infection-immunity-inflammation/respiratory-critical-care-anaesthesia/respiratory-infection-epithelial-biology-research-group

 


Publications