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Researcher awarded ‘Unsung COVID Heroes’ award for outbreak control work across schools

Dr Amy Thomas in the lab

Amy receiving her award from Princess Anne at a ceremony held at Windsor Castle ceremony earlier this month.

Press release issued: 28 February 2022

Dr Amy Thomas, a Research Associate at Bristol Medical School, has been awarded an ‘Unsung COVID Heroes’ award from WISE, an organisation that promotes women in science, maths and engineering (STEM), for her work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After identifying very early into the pandemic that collecting samples from children was challenging, Amy proceeded to design and validate a simple saliva spit test to roll out to schools across Bristol. The antibody test is still contributing to national decision-making for outbreak control and has already been used in more than twenty outbreaks in Bristol.

What made Amy’s work particularly remarkable was that it was conducted shortly after her PhD studies in an unrelated field. She used her initiative to source laboratory space, pre-pandemic saliva samples (from researchers in Portugal) and set up a pop-up clinic in the car park of a local hospital to collect saliva samples. The project secured £1.8 million in funding. 

Amy received her award from Princess Anne at a ceremony held at Windsor Castle ceremony earlier this month.

Dr Thomas said: “WISE is a fantastic organisation that promotes women in science, maths and engineering. It was a great honour to have been recognised and inspiring to learn about the activities of all the award finalists. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to conduct this research in a such a supportive team, and I hope this award inspires others to pursue their ideas.”



Further information

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Bristol UNCOVER is supported by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute
Find out more about the Institute’s COVID-19 research looking into five key areas: virus natural history, therapeutics and diagnostics research; epidemiology; clinical management; vaccines; and ethics and social science.

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