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Prof Robert Read


Professor of Infectious Diseases and Honorary Consultant Physician
NIHR BRC Theme Lead for Microbiology, Immunology and Infection

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Robert Read is Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Southampton and Honorary Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases at University Hospital Southampton. He was Director of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre 2017-2022, and is theme co-lead for the Microbiology, Immunology and Infection theme of the BRC 2022-2027. 

His research interests include the pathogenesis and prevention of lethal infections, notably   meningococcal sepsis, pertussis, influenza and pneumococcal disease, and he has pioneered the use of controlled human infection of the respiratory tract. Robert is a NIHR Senior Investigator and is a member of the UK Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunization (JCVI). He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Infection.

Landmark publications:

1: Dale AP et al, Effect of colonisation with Neisseria lactamica on crossreactive anti-meningococcal B-cell responses: a randomised, controlled, human infection trial Lancet Microbe 2022; Dec.

2: Little P, Read RC, et al,  Antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infection in children presenting in primary care (ARTIC-PC):the predictive value of molecular testing. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2022 Sep;28(9):1238-1244. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2022.02.033. Epub 2022 Mar 11. PMID: 35289295.

3: Munro APS, et al; COV-BOOST study group. Safety and immunogenicity of seven COVID-19 vaccines as a third dose (booster) following two doses of ChAdOx1 nCov-19 or BNT162b2 in the UK (COV-BOOST): a blinded, multicentre, randomised, controlled, phase 2 trial. Lancet. 2021 18;398(10318):2258-2276. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02717-3.

4: Stuart ASV, et al; Com-COV2 Study Group. Immunogenicity, safety, and reactogenicity of heterologous COVID-19 primary vaccination incorporating mRNA, viral-vector,and protein-adjuvant vaccines in the UK (Com-COV2): a single-blind, randomised, phase 2, non-inferiority trial. Lancet.  2022 Jan 1;399(10319):36-49. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02718-5.

5: Killingley B, et al, Safety, tolerability and viral kinetics during SARS-CoV-2 human challenge in young adults. Nature Medicine. 2022 May;28(5):1031-1041. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01780-9.

6: Shaw RH, et al ; Com-COV Study Group. Effect of priming interval on reactogenicity, peak   immunological response, and waning after homologous and heterologous COVID-19 vaccine schedules: exploratory analyses of Com-COV, a randomised control trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2022 Nov;10(11):1049-1060. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(22)00163-1.

7: Little P, et al,  Antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infection in children presenting in primary care in England (ARTIC PC): a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet.  2021 Oct 16;398(10309):1417-1426. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01431-8.

8: Liu X, et al; Com-COV Study Group. Safety and immunogenicity ofheterologous versus homologous prime- boost schedules with an adenoviral vectored and mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Com-COV): a single-blind, randomised, non-inferiority trial. Lancet. 2021 Sep 4;398(10303):856-869. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01694-9.

9: Laver JR, et al. A recombinant commensal bacteria elicits heterologous antigen-specific immune responses during pharyngeal carriage. Science Translational Medicine 2021 Jul 7;13(601):eabe8573.   doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abe8573. PMID: 34233953.

10: de Graaf H, et al, Controlled Human Infection With Bordetella pertussis Induces Asymptomatic,

Immunizing Colonization. Clinical Infectious Disease. 2020 Jul 11;71(2):403-411. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz840. PMID: 31562530; PMCID: PMC7353841.

11: Pandey A, et al. Microevolution of Neisseria lactamica during nasopharyngeal colonisation induced by controlled human infection. Nature Communications 2018 Nov 12;9(1):4753. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07235-5.

Major grants:

  • Pathfinder: Experimental Human Challenge with Genetically Modified Commensals to Investigate Respiratory Tract Mucosal Immunity and Colonisation. MRC: £1,503,209 (2017-2022).

  • PERtussIS COrrelates of Protection Europe (PERISCOPE). EU/ Innovative Medicines Initiative (co-I to Prof Ronald de Groot and the EU Pertussis Consortium): £22,500,000, of which £2,200,000 to Southampton (2016-2022).

  • Experimental Human Challenge of Neisseria lactamica in pregnancy. Medical Research Council Research Training Fellowship to Dr Anastasia Theodosiou (Sponsor, Supervisor): £298,345 (2020-2024)

  • Flexible Raman biosensing platform for low cost health diagnostics. EPSRC (Co-A to Dr J Wilkinson and 2 others): £972,877 (2017-2022).

  • NIHR Senior Investigator Award. NIHR: £450,000 (2018-2023).

  • NIHR – i4i; Bacterial impedance cytometry for rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing. (co-I to Dr Mark Sutton and Prof Hywel Morgan).: £1.009,946 ((2020-2023)

  • NIHR Health Technology Assessment Board;ellulitis Optimal Antibiotic Treatment: COAT study (co-I) to Professor Nick Francis and others, £1,490,332 (2022-2026)

Impact example:

Created the world`s first human challenge models for Whooping Cough and genetically modified Neisseria spp.

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