Penta Working Groups

To drive the delivery of the Penta Scientific Strategy, working groups have been formed to develop and define the key objectives and activities for each scientific and cross-cutting area. Working groups are made up of Penta ID Network members working together to achieve specified goals.

Basic Science

Current membership:  Al Ozenof, Anita De Rossi, Federico Martinon-Torres, Lorenza Putignani, Mathias Lichterfeld, Ofer Levy, Paolo Palma, Paolo Rossi, Savita Pahwa, Philip Goulder, Robert Siciliano and Inger Lindfors.

The Basic Sciences platform’s mission is to create and manage a network of cutting-edge laboratories dedicated to the development and implementation of five platform areas: molecular and cellular immunology; molecular virology; multi-OMICS technologies; microbiome; bioinformatics.

Our objectives:

  • Define biomarkers that allow to stratify treatments’ ( including vaccines) outcome (both in terms of immunogenicity and safety) according to host characteristics. We hypothesize that there are distinct immunologic mechanisms that differ in vaccine response; and that these can be classified using flowcytometry, metabolomic, proteomic, epigenetic, and microbiome data.
  • Define new in vitro assays to accelerate the early selection of novel immunization or treatment strategies (i.e. adjuvants) and vaccines against MDR pathogens.
  • Increase the feasibility of specific virologic assays aiming at defining integrated viral characteristics and mechanisms of latency and latency reversal.
  • To develop data-integration pipelines from multi-OMICs information to be translated into clinical applications able to drive precision medicine by identifying overall predictors of the immune response. We will develop and validate predictive models for overall vaccine or infectious agents response by leveraging artificial intelligence approaches that accurately predict responses upon infection or vaccination.
  • Increase cross-lab reproducibility and mathematical deconvolution approach to reduce confounding factors in the analysis of the Microbiota composition (age, gender, diet, social conditions).

Bloodborne Viruses

Co-leads: Anna Turkova and Ali Judd

Members: Alasdair Bamford, Pauline Amuge, Chasala Chibala, Angela Colbers, Jeannie Collins, Alex Compagnucci, Mark Cotton, Tim Cressey, Debbie Ford, Caroline Foster, Di Gibb, Giuseppe Indolfi, Cissy Kityo, Nigel Klein, Marc Lallemant, Thanyawee Puthanakit (tbc), Pablo Rojo, Paolo Palma, Andy Prendergast, Alfredo Tagarro, Claire Thorne, Catherine Wedderburn and Gabija Morkunaite.

“Our working group includes multidisciplinary researchers from different settings. We aim to optimise management of children affected by bloodborne viruses.”

Our objectives, for children and adolescents affected by bloodborne viruses, are to:

  • Contribute to the development of child-friendly safe and effective treatment
  • Optimise clinical management
  • Investigate long-term health outcomes, using real-world data
  • Contribute to advancing HIV cure research
  • Define research gaps and interventions for children HIV exposed uninfected (CHEU)​
  • Optimise prevention and treatment specifically for viral hepatitis.

Clinical Pharmacology

Current membership: Adrie Bekker, David Burger, Deborah Hirt, Elin Svensson, Helen McIlleron, Irja Lutsar, Joe Standing​, Johannes Van der Anker, Tim R. Cressey and Alessandra Nardone.

The Clinical Pharmacology group focuses on optimal dosing of antimicrobial treatment of paediatric infectious diseases, including pregnancy. PK studies are ideally nested within larger clinical studies run by the Penta network​. Our working group works closely with the other working group leaders to support the planned research studies of the Penta ID Network.”

The objectives of our working group are:

  • To link established PK analysis (classical) centers within the Penta ID Network with Penta investigators in the different disease areas for scientific PK advice on study design and analysis
  • Strengthen the capacity to perform pharmacometrics reserach within the Penta ID Network so that Penta investigators across the therapeutic fields (working groups) can utilize their expertise for scientific PK modelling and simulation analysis
  • Support a network of accredited clinical laboratories providing a range of validated assays to be used within the Penta ID Network.

Fungal Infections

Lead: Adilia Warris. Deputy lead: Laura Ferreras Antolin

Members: Andreas Groll, Nelesh Govender, Bill Steinbach, Theo Zaoutis, Maria Elena Santolaya, Thomas Lehrnbecher, Alessio Mesini, Emmanuel Roilides, Roger Bruggemann, Elio Castagnola, Brendan McMullan, Fabianne Carelesse, Tanu Singhal and Riccardo Melilo Verri.

We aim to increase the knowledge of epidemiology and pathogenesis and to improve the management of fungal infections in paediatrics.

Our objectives:

  • Investigate the clinical epidemiology of invasive fungal infections in neonates and children​
  • Create a forum for education and training colleagues in the field of paediatric mycology​
  • Investigate new diagnostic and treatment modalities of fungal infections in specific paediatric populations.

Infection in Pregnancy and Vertical Transmission

Current membership: Angela Colbers, Catherine Wedderburn, Claire Thorne, Karoline Aebi-Popp, Eleni Nastouli and Giorgia Dalla Valle.

Our working group focuses on activities to reduce perinatal infection and adverse outcomes associated with in utero and early life exposures to maternal infection and/or to preventive or therapeutic measures targeting such infections. Our goal is to generate evidence on specific infections in pregnancy, including those that are newly (re) emerging, in order to​ understand how best to prevent vertical transmission and to delineate risks and benefits of interventions such as antiviral treatment given before, during and after delivery.

Our objectives:

  • Deliver existing pregnancy projects and work-packages in the current Penta portfolio on time and according to plan​
  • Produce evidence-based Penta guidelines on breastfeeding in women with HIV in resource-rich settings
  • Develop and extend Penta’s role in pregnancy research in viral hepatitis (HCV and HBV), alongside other infections (e.g. CMV, AMR)​
  • Extend pregnancy safety studies beyond Dolutegravir​
  • Integrate advocacy, community engagement and training within our pregnancy / VT research activities.

Severe Bacterial Infections and Anti-Microbial Resistance

Current membership: Jay Berkley, Daniele Donà, Hilda Angela Mujuru, Victor Musiime, Mike Sharland, Sithembiso Velaphi, Angela Dramowski, Julia Bielicki and Francesca Viero.

Our working group focuses on the optimal prevention and treatment of severe bacterial infections in the hospital setting, including pneumonia, neonatal and paediatric sepsis. The work of the group is through observational and interventional studies investigating antibiotic treatment and infection prevention and control. The group aims to define what is the optimal drug, dose, duration, and delivery (formulation) to maximise clinical efficacy, while minimising toxicity and selection of antimicrobial resistance.”

Our objectives:

  • Improve the evidence-base for the antibiotic management of severe childhood pneumonia, neonatal and paediatric sepsis
  • Investigate neonatal and paediatric strategies for infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities
  • Develop a research programme to inform on best practices for the management of childhood multidrug-resistant bacterial infections
  • Evaluate setting-appropriate use of diagnostics for optimising targeted antibiotic prescribing as part of a multimodal approach
  • Inform policy content and implementation, building on the findings of robust strategic and globally relevant research

Training and Education

Led by Dr Steve Welch and supported by Peter McEneaney, our full PentaTr@ining faculty can be found here:

Penta is a global leader in paediatric HIV training and education, with established cirricula reinforced by an innovative, patient-centred teaching model. We now aim to establish the same reputation in our other clinical areas of research activity, such as antimicrobial resistance and fungal infections. Fresh, up-to-date training materials and resources will be developed by our expert international faculty to deliver interactive, tailored training programmes based on specific areas of educational need.

Find out more about our PentaTr@ining activities here: