Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

Research in respiratory paediatrics is principally related to the consequences of respiratory infection, and to the pathophysiology of cystic fibrosis.


Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children worldwide and is a major cause of acute illness in the UK. The last 15 years has seen a rapidly increasing incidence in childhood pneumonia complicated by empyema thoracis. Much of this relates to increases in pneumococcal serotype 1, with subsequent increases in serotypes 3 and 19a now being seen. The recent introduction of conjugate pneumococcal vaccines into routine infant immunisation schedules led to an immediate reduction in the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia, but these benefits were short-lived as there has been a subsequent increase in disease due to non-vaccine serotypes. These changes have led us to established UK-ESPE, a national surveillance programme for paediatric empyema in collaboration with the Health Protection Agency and colleagues from every paediatric respiratory unit in the UK. This programme has now been adopted by the UK Clinical research network (UK-CRN). The information generated by this research is allowing us to monitor changing patterns of pneumococcal disease in children and will inform future vaccine research and policy.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common life-limiting inherited disease in the UK with 95% of morbidity and mortality associated with lung disease. The exact pathogenesis of CF lung disease remains poorly understood and experimental models are therefore vital to advance research. In collaboration with the largest lung transplantation centre in Europe at the Freeman Hospital we have established the invaluable experimental resource of primary tissue and airway cells from explanted CF lungs - the first such programme in Europe. This ongoing work is supported by an MRC/CF Trust Fellowship and has yielded a number of important novel therapeutic targets and publications.

Related Staff:

Respiratory Medicine

Dr Michael McKean
Associate Clinical Lecturer

Samantha Moss

Christopher O'Brien

Dr David Spencer