Dr Anna Goodman, consultant in infectious diseases and general medicine
Dr Anna Goodman is a consultant in infectious diseases and general (internal) medicine. She has been a consultant here at Guy’s and St Thomas’ since 2014 and also works at the MRC clinical trials unit at University College London as an associate professor. As well as working across clinical wards and running our infectious diseases clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Anna is a clinical researcher specialising in infectious disease. She has been the local principal investigator for a number of vaccine trials in malaria and more recently COVID-19. Anna has always been keen to combine clinical practice with clinical research as see research as key to supporting and understanding clinical decision making.
Speaking about the start of the pandemic Anna said “Guy’s and St Thomas’ is a High Consequence Infectious Diseases Treatment centre, so as an infectious diseases consultant I was looking after some of the first patients who were very sick with COVID-19 in February 2020. I knew this was going to be the start of something serious. I was very keen to be involved in research to enable us to find out more about this disease, how to treat it and how to prevent it.
“Having previously done my PhD with and worked extensively on malaria vaccine trials with colleagues at University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, I was very keen to collaborate with them on the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial.
“The COVID-19 vaccine research presented different challenges at different times, particularly as we had never had to set something up quite so quickly in terms of clinical research. Under normal circumstances the set up process can take months. We screened 500 potential participants in the first week and were administering the trial’s investigational medicinal products three weeks later.”
She added: “Our COVID-19 research team also had to be a lot bigger than normal, as we were monitoring over 900 research participants 24 hours a day. We were very fortunate to have so many staff, both clinical and non-clinical from across Guy’s and St Thomas’ who volunteered and stepped in to support us.
Speaking about the fast paced learning required when it came to COVID-19 trial set up Anna said: “We learnt a lot from the Oxford vaccine trial set up, which made things slightly easier when we began the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial. Working with colleagues at King’s College Hospital to deliver this trial allowed us to strengthen our local collaboration, and to involve larger numbers of participants in the trial, than would have been possible otherwise.
Reflecting on the impact of the pandemic and the importance of vaccine research to people around the globe Anna said: “Having seen people become very sick and die from coronavirus on the wards throughout the pandemic, it was a real privilege to be involved in something that has had such a positive impact on the world.
“As a clinical researcher you get used to receiving negative results, so getting such positive results from the COVID-19 vaccines trials has been fantastic.” Anna added: “Seeing the impact of COVID-19 vaccine first hand on patients and family members has made the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme all the more special.”
Finally, speaking about diversity in research Anna said: “It’s important that health research is representative of our community, both in terms of our researchers and trial participants. This is improving, but I would encourage everyone to work to ensure their local community is represented as volunteers in medical trials.”