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Professor Matthew Snape is a paediatrician working at the Oxford Vaccine Group (Department of Paediatrics) with an extensive experience of conducting research related to vaccines and infectious diseases in children and adults. He is the Chief Investigator on ‘What’s the STORY (Serum Testing Of Representative Youngsters)’, which will determine the rates of symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections in healthy children across England.

What is your main area(s) of interest/expertise?

My research is focussed on understanding and preventing infectious diseases in children. Accordingly I have led studies evaluating new and existing vaccines against meningococcal and pneumococcal bacteria (major causes of meningitis and sepsis), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Ebola virus disease, as well as population based studies to evaluate the burden of disease from RSV.

What are you working on right now?

For the COVID-19 pandemic I have received funding from NIHR to adapt a pre-existing study (What’s the STORY to evaluate the proportion of children in England with antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This study will recruit approximately 3000 participants aged from infancy to 24 years, and is being conducted in collaboration with Public Health England and a network of sites across England. The results of antibody testing will allow us to identify how many children are being infected with SARS-CoV-2, and whether this changes with interventions such as re-opening of schools.

Why is Oxford a good place to work in this field of research?

With the support of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre the Oxford Vaccine Group has been able to develop a team of researchers with expertise in conducting multicentre clinical research projects, enabling us to rapidly undertake projects of national and international relevance. This is especially important when it comes to conducting research involving children, which can only be done with nurses, doctors and scientists experienced with the particular challenges this presents. Alongside this Oxford provides extraordinary opportunities to collaborate with scientists and clinicians working in related fields of research, allowing us to make best use of the data we obtain in these studies. 

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Matthew Snape