Respiratory infection expert opens the floor to questions on Reddit

In a live Q&A Dr John Tregoning recently explained how and why his research team is trying to discover targets for new vaccines and antibiotics.

Dr Tregoning , a senior lecturer in Imperial’s Department of Medicine , hosted a live ‘IAmA’ session on the social media platform, Reddit, on Thursday 5 July.

‘IAmA’ is a form of question-and-answer interactive interview on Reddit. A host sets the agenda for the Q&A, and invites members of the public to ‘AMA’ (Ask Me Anything) on that chosen topic.

Dr Tregoning’s session offered the Reddit community the chance to ask questions on the topics of respiratory infection, vaccines, and animal research. Visit the AMA page to read the full transcript.

Learning from animals to help humans

Dr Tregoning’s research focuses on the body’s response to infections in the lung and uses this information to develop better drugs and vaccines, particularly for children. To achieve these aims, animal models are an integral part of Dr Tregoning’s studies - in particular they enable interventions to block or enhance different aspects of host defence.

As Chair of one of the animal research ethics committee (Animal Welfare and Review Body, AWERB) which reviews Imperial researchers’ animal research to guarantee the combination of best science with the highest standards of animal welfare, Dr Tregoning is in a good position to discuss why the benefit to humanity is a driving consideration in animal research.

Lung microbiome, pandemic risks and Amish barn dust

A variety of questions were posted during the live interview with Dr Tregoning, some asking about the correlation between exposure to barn dust and the development of asthma (after answering the question, he added jokingly, ‘being outside and in contact with animals is probably going to be good for them, at least it will stop them playing Fortnite for a bit!’).

Other discussion points focused more on pulmonary and respiratory disease. Vaccination was one of the main topics of interest, with people asking how we can defeat human pandemic diseases, and others enquiring about Dr Tregoning’s opinions on anti-vaccination groups.

The Reddit community was also interested to know more from him about the policies that regulate the use of animals for his research. An insightful suggestion was raised from one of the users about non-publication of negative or inconclusive animal research. As Chair of an AWERB Dr Tregoning said he will raise the topic at the next meeting: ‘We have ongoing discussions about how to improve the AWERB process’.

From the lab to the world

Thanks to this live interview more than 21,000 people around the world had the chance to know more about respiratory disease research directly from an expert in the field. Encouragingly, many participants in the live interview praised scientists such as Dr Tregoning for the effort they put into their work.

This AMA was the second session held with an Imperial researcher on the topic of animal research in science. On Wednesday 28 February 2018, Professor Richard Reynolds shared insights into his work in an AMA on the ‘Science’ subreddit community page on the topic of multiple sclerosis. The full transcript of the session can be read online.

In line with Imperial’s involvement in the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research (May 2014), regular AMAs are being planned with researchers who contribute to the dissemination and improvement regarding the principles of the 3Rs (Reduction, Replacement, Refinement) at the College and in the scientific community.

Article text (excluding photos or graphics) Imperial College London.