Modernising Medical Microbiology is working to find out more about bacteria and viruses in order to control and better manage them, ultimately improving people’s health. Using new technologies in genetic coding of microbes and electronic information management – their work focuses on how infectious diseases are diagnosed, how infection is passed on, how we treat infections and how best to identify and control new outbreaks of infectious diseases.

For individuals, this will mean understanding by which bug(s) an infection is caused and what characteristics that organism has; therefore allowing the patient to rapidly receive the right treatment.

For application in hospitals and the community, an example would be looking at the genetic code of the same bug type from different patients; this will tell us where infections were picked up from or if an outbreak is starting.

The group are focused on studying three bugs that are the main causes of infections that people get when in hospital: Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C.diff) and Norovirus. They are also using computer databases to investigate patterns of infectious disease among patients attending Oxfordshire hospitals and GPs.
In order to deliver research projects that are more relevant to patients, in 2013, the Infectious Diseases theme established a 150-member strong patient and public group. The group will have it’s first face to face meetings early in 2014 at the John Radcliffe hospital, where there will be a blend of interactions with researchers and working together in smaller groups to generate useful ideas and actions.

The theme’s work to investigate bugs that cause infectious disease, while tracking infection sources and movement in hospitals, has led to their being at the forefront of a joint national project with other expert groups.

This research is likely to transform routine diagnosis, management and control of infectious disease in the coming years.

The team’s work will also allow us to minimise the over-use of precious antibiotics. In turn this will reduce the incidence of antibiotic resistance and multi-resistance of bugs, reduce the risk of Clostridium difficile infections and provide cost savings in the NHS.