Professor Robin Bailey
MA, BM, MRCP, DTM&H, PhD, FRCP
Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Hospital for Tropical Diseases
I have had an interest in research in tropical medicine and infectious diseases since my experience with VSO in Ghana in the late 1970s. I was introduced to trachoma and to The Gambia while at Southampton Medical School by Professors David Mabey and Mike Ward. Since then I have acquired a broad-based research training in which skills in molecular biology, immunology and epidemiology have been built on a mathematical, and statistical background.
Before entering medicine I spent four years teaching mathematics and science at secondary school level. After entering medicine I worked in a series of teaching hospital jobs and had substantial experience in the teaching of both medical undergraduates and doctors preparing for MRCP. In my present post, I have had a satisfying opportunity both to teach DTMH and MSc students at the bedside, in discussion groups, and in problem-based sessions and to develop their research potential through the supervision of MSc projects.
I was Course Organiser for the LSHTM Masters course in Tropical Medicine and International Health (then called Infection and Health in the Tropics) from 1997-1999. On my return from The Gambia in 2004 I again took over as Course Organiser.
I also initiated in 1997 the post DTMH Gambia course, where we provide DTMH students with direct experience of health problems in a developing country and the ways in which clinical medicine, public health and research are used to tackle them in a way which complements and builds on the course material. This continues to run every year and to be well rated by the participants. I am currently a DTM&H examiner.
Since 1990 I have focussed on the problem of human ocular chlamydial infection and until 2004 I managed a series of research projects based at MRC The Gambia concerned with the immunology, pathogenesis, and control of human ocular chlamydial infection. Studies have ranged from field studies of practical issues in trachoma control to laboratory studies aimed at elucidating fundamental immunological mechanisms in protection and pathogenesis. Our field studies on single dose azithromycin led to the International Trachoma Initiative donation programme which aims to distribute 135 million doses in the next 5 years, and our work on transmission of trachoma by flies has put latrine provsion onto the agenda of control programmes.
In the laboratory I have designed, conducted and supervised studies on molecular diagnostic methods, on the role of cellular and humoral immunity in protection and pathogenesis, and on immunogenetic factors in susceptibility to scarring sequelae of infection. With Martin Holland, who now leads the trachoma projects in The Gambia I established real time PCR methodology for diagnostics and gene expression studies based in the Unit.
The multidisciplinary approach we have made has led to local and international collaborations. In The Gambia I collaborate closely with Mr Sillah the coordinator of the Gambian National Eye Care programme with whom I am working to develop improved assessment methods based on Lot Quality Assurance Sampling(LQAS) and to test a rapid dipstick type conjunctival test in targeting communities for treatment using a controlled trial design. I have active collaborations with Dominic Kwiatkowski’s group in Oxford, with whom we are using the high throughput genotyping facility and knowledge of the extent of LD and haplotypic variation to identify critical host determinants for the development of the sequelae of chlamydial disease. With Hill Gaston in Cambridge we plan to use expression cloning to identify antigenic targets of T cell immunity. With Ian Clarke at Southampton, Grant McClarty in Winnipeg and Julian Parkhill at the Sanger Centre, we will be studying pathogen diversity by sequencing of clinical isolates.
The School including the Disability Group (ICEH) now hosts the largest group of researchers working on trachoma in the world. Since my return from The Gambia I have been working with these colleagues to secure the future of trachoma research projects in The Gambia and elsewhere. I also have interests in malaria and STDs which I aim to develop further. I am accredited as a UK specialist in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Medical Register and Specialist register