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24 June 2022

Sheffield researchers win award for contribution to COVID-19 Research


Two infectious diseases researchers based at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have won an award for their contribution to COVID-19 Research.

Dr Thomas Darton and Dr Ruth Payne, who have led COVID-19 vaccine research at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the past two years, received the award at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) Yorkshire and Humber Research Awards.

Their commitment to COVID-19 research has contributed to the availability of vaccines administered within the worldwide vaccination programme and has helped inform the booster programmes building immunity against the virus and its variants.

Dr Thomas Darton, Honorary Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Florey Advanced Clinical Fellow at the University of Sheffield said: “We were very surprised to be nominated for this award and delighted to have won. It really represents the massive effort that the whole team in Sheffield has made to contributing to these COVID vaccine studies, from the very first Oxford-sponsored COV002 study right up to the current studies still in progress.”

Alongside colleagues across the wider infrastructure in Sheffield, including the Clinical Research and Innovation Office, Clinical Research Facility, Cancer Clinical Trials Centre, Jessop Wing, multiple support services such as Laboratory Medicine and Pharmacy, and colleagues from the CRN Agile Research Team, The University of Sheffield, and surrounding organisations, the combined team were the first site in the UK to open to the latest Moderna vaccine trial and are the second top recruiter in the UK for the COV002 AZ Vaccine trial.

“We are enormously grateful to the thousands of people who expressed interest in contributing to these studies as participants. At the start, these participants volunteered to help find a vaccine to prevent COVID and find a way out of the pandemic, without any guarantee that this was even possible. They then continued to volunteer for new studies to find vaccines effective against new variants and in new combinations and have enabled us to gain some control over this new infection so that we can start to look towards life after the pandemic.”

Dr Ruth Payne, Honorary Specialist Registrar at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Clinical Lecturer at University of Sheffield said: “It's a great privilege to receive this award, which reflects the efforts of a huge team of people in both Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the University of Sheffield who worked to contribute to the vital development of a COVID-19 vaccine"

Amber OMalley, Chief Operating Officer NIHR CRN Yorkshire & Humber said, "We have seen ground-breaking research take place across the Yorkshire and Humber region over the last year, despite the significant challenges presented to us by the Covid-19 pandemic. I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved as a Network, and it was fantastic to come together again to celebrate the hard work and dedication we see every day from our partners. My huge congratulations to the award winners and all those nominated."

The award ceremony was held on May 17th and celebrated the fantastic and inspirational work that those working in research have done in the last year.


PHOTO 1: Dr Ruth Payne and Dr Thomas Darton
PHOTO 2: (left to right) Dr Dipak Patel, Research & Innovation Manager, Gail Mills, Lead Nurse Research and Development, Professor Chris Morley, Chief Nurse, Dr Karen Rogstad, Research Speciality Lead for Infection and Lead Academic Directorate of Communicable Diseases, Dr Ruth Payne and Dr Thomas Darton



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