Scholar to work on study of COVID-19 in children

  • May 1, 2020
Scholar to work on study of COVID-19 in children

John Clark is working on a study on the impact of COVID-19 on children.

I am incredibly proud to work alongside outstanding doctors, nurses and allied health and support staff who have not only risen to the challenge of the pandemic but have quickly embraced and supported this research.

John Clark

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has begun work on a study of the impact of COVID-19 on children.

Dr John Clark [2019] is studying how the virus affects children and how their responses to the virus seem to be different from adults.

The study is part of a nationwide collaboration that is looking at how COVID-19 affects children. No-one is sure how long children can carry the virus in their respiratory system, blood and digestive tract. This is important in terms of transmission.

There is also concern that, although children make up a small proportion of patients with COVID-19, some have been admitted to intensive care with the illness. Whether this is due to underlying disease in affected children is not fully reported.

John hopes that the work will address why some children are more susceptible than others to infection and give a better insight to the inflammatory process that is occuring in the blood and chest. Understanding these cellular pathways could unlock information that is urgently needed to cure the disease.

John is enrolling children admitted with suspected COVID-19, some of whom are critically ill children, which means they need the support of a ventilator, and others of whom are less sick but need admission to hospital.

He has also set up a comprehensive data collection tool so that when the results are analysed they can be linked to the child’s course of treatment and severity of disease.

John, who has also been granted permission to work some extra shifts at Addenbrooke’s hospital in the paediatric intensive care unit as a doctor, says: “I am so grateful for the support I have received from my supervisors (Dr Nazima Pathan, Department of Paediatrics and Professor Stephen Baker, Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease) and their teams for helping me rapidly adapt my PhD project into something much larger than I had anticipated when I began in October. I am incredibly proud to work alongside outstanding doctors, nurses and allied health and support staff who have not only risen to the challenge of the pandemic but have quickly embraced and supported this research.”

John is doing a PhD in Paediatrics on rapid diagnosis of lower respiratory tract infection and antimicrobial resistance in critically ill children.

John Clark

John Clark

  • Scholar
  • Australia
  • 2019 PhD Paediatrics
  • Corpus Christi College

Before I started my medical degrees at Monash University I lived in Donald, a tiny farming community in Australia. With this rural upbringing I have always been motivated to provide the highest level of care to sick children wherever they may call home.

My career as a paediatric doctor began at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, but I made my way to Cambridge after a year working in the paediatric intensive care unit in Edinburgh, Scotland and some brief stints in rural and outback Australia. It is a privilege to help the families and children we care for in often brief but life changing moments.

At Cambridge, I am working on a study called RASCALS – the ‘Rapid Assay for Sick Children with Acute Lung infection Study’ with the supervision of Dr Nazima Pathan and Prof Stephen Baker. We’re using new techniques to diagnose chest infection in critically ill children faster and researching genetic makers of antibiotic resistance so we can prevent treatment failure. Infection is one of the leading causes of death in children aged less than 5 years, so it’s exciting to try and make a difference in this area. This would not have been possible without the extensive support of Gates-Cambridge.

Previous Education

Monash University Perioperative Medicine 2018
University of Sydney Child Health 2014

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