Tackling COVID-19: Professor Gordon Dougan

Professor Gordon Dougan

“In many parts of the world people still live with the daily threat of diseases like cholera, typhoid, and malaria. In reality COVID is just another infection,” says Professor Gordon Dougan.

I run a lab in the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre (JCBC) on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, where we study antibiotic resistance and infections. We work closely with Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), applying genomics to analyse clinical samples. I’m also a strategic advisor to Wellcome, and until recently was spending two days a week at its headquarters in London. I’m now spending all my working time in the JCBC, continuing to work remotely for Wellcome. I’ve worked throughout the lockdown.

My team was involved in setting up COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers, and establishing a containment level 3 facility (designed to safely handle infectious diseases) for this. It was hard work, but I believe it made a major impact on reducing COVID in the hospital and department so it has been very rewarding. The group is now slowly stepping back from testing and returning to our normal work.

I also helped establish the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium for sequencing the virus, together with the Principal Investigator Sharon Peacock. I did a lot of the organisational work, including setting up the grant with the University. This was all done at very short notice. Ian Goodfellow is head of sequencing for Cambridge COG-UK, and has been great at linking with the hospital. We also helped out with the Intensive Care Unit at the peak of the pandemic, looking for secondary infections and antibiotic resistance.

My lab works on the molecular mechanisms involved in infection and resistance to treatments. We use simple models of infection, mostly based around high throughput genomic assays and models based on human stem cells. I also have global connections for my work on typhoid - multiple field sites around the world managed partly through joint funding with the International Vaccine Institute from Gates, EU, and Wellcome. We run projects working on maximising the amount of useful data returned on the analysis of samples, both on these sites and within the Cambridge hospital system.

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Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge


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