Aerobiology and Infection Control
The Aerobiology and Infection Control Group is a multi-disciplinary research team comprising microbiologists, engineers and mathematical modellers. The group has considerable experience in evaluating bioaerosols in indoor environments and engineering measures to control infection and in recent years has successfully gained over £2M funding with contracts from EPSRC, Department of Health and industry.
Research is driven by the continuing problem of hospital acquired infection and the worldwide health concerns about infectious diseases spread through airborne routes. Airborne transmission is known to be a primary mechanism in the transmission of TB and influenza, but has also been implicated in the transmission of nosocomial infections including MRSA, Acinetobacter spp, C. difficile and norovirus. In addition, contamination of the environment through contact with dirty hands and objects or airborne dispersal provides a potential reservoir of pathogens which could subsequently cause infection by indirect contacts. Regardless of the pathogen, successful control of infection involves breaking the chain of transmission, for which it is necessary to understand both the mode of transmission as well as the nature of the pathogen and its behaviour in the environment.
Understanding this complex interaction between people, pathogens and the built environment is at the heart of our research with our key interests including:
- Airborne infection risk
- Tuberculosis control
- Transmission and control of hospital acquired infection
- Design of the healthcare environment
- Pathogen control technologies including:
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation air disinfection
- Negative air ionisation
- Transport and Survival of microorganisms
- Indoor air quality
- Building airflows and ventilation technology
Our research expertise includes mathematical modeling techniques applied to transmission of disease and building airflow simulation, laboratory based studies on pathogen survival and air disinfection techniques and hospital based studies relating pathogen presence to the environment and activities. We also have a great deal of experience undertaking commercial research including testing microbial air cleaning devices in a room scale environment. Our multi-discipline approach brings together investigators from a variety of backgrounds and we have established strong links with a range of external collaborators including academics, industry and clinicians and estates engineers in the NHS.