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


  • Leads: Paolo Palma, Paolo Rossi
  • Members: Anita DeRossi, Philip Goulder, Ofer Levy, Mathias Lichterfield, Savita Pahwa, Lorenza Putignani 
  • Penta point of contact: Michele Gardini

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:

  • To 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.
  • To define new in vitro assays to accelerate the early selection of novel immunization or treatment strategies (i.e. adjuvants) and vaccines against MDR pathogens.
  • To 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.
  • To 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: Ali Judd, Anna Turkova
  • Members: Pauline Amuge, Alasdair Bamford, Chishala Chabala, Angela Colbers, Jeannie Collins, Alex Compagnucci, Mark Cotton, Tim Cressey, Katya Doerholt, Felicity Fitzgerald, Debbie Ford, Caroline Foster, Giuseppe Indolfi, Cissy Kityo, Nigel Klein, Marc Lallemant, Paolo Palma, Vana Papaevangelou, Martina Penazzato, Andy Prendergast, Thanyawee Puthanakit, Natasha Samuels, Pablo Rojo Conejo, Paolo Rossi, Alfredo Tagarro, Claire Thorne, Catherine Wedderburn
  • Penta point of contact: Gabija Morkunaite

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

Our objectives:

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

Clinical Pharmacology


  • Lead: Tim Cressey
  • Deputy Lead: David Burger
  • Members: Deborah Hirt, Irja Lutsar, Hellen McIlleron, Joe Standing, Elin Svenson
  • Penta point of contact: 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 ID Network​. Our working group works closely with the other working group leaders to support the planned research studies of the Penta ID Network.”

Our objectives:

  • 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
  • To strengthen the capacity to perform pharmacometrics research within the Penta ID Network so that Penta investigators across the therapeutic fields (working groups) can utilise their expertise for scientific PK modelling and simulation analysis
  • To support a network of accredited clinical laboratories providing a range of validated assays to be used within the Penta ID Network.

Early Career Researchers


  • Lead: John Kopsidas
  • Deputy Lead: Lisanne Bevers
  • Members: Grace Miriam Ahimbisibwe, Pauline Amuge, Tristan Delory, Cristina Epalza, Carlos Grasa, Tom Jacobs, Elizabeth Kaudha, Cinta Moraleda, Maggie Nyirenda, Helen Payne, Karen Scott, Elisabetta Venturini, Catherine Wedderburn, Ellen White
  • Penta point of contact: Melania Kowatch

“Our Working Group has been developed to drive Penta’s scientific work in building the next generation of leading researchers in paediatric infectious diseases and offer new insights for Penta’s scientific group. The vision for the our Working Group is for it to be the incubator for the next global research leaders of the Penta Network. The mission is to help each other become better and to facilitate the best use of Penta network’s resources in that direction.”

Our objectives:

  • To support organisational growth and long-term sustainability of the Penta ID Network
  • To build research passion and capability in young investigators
  • To support the development of future researcher leaders and network members
  • To provide leadership experience to junior researchers, irrespective of speciality or geography within the network.

Fungal Infections


  • Lead: Adilia Warris
  • Members: Roger Bruggemann, Fabianne Carlesse, Elio Castagnola, Laura Ferreras-Antolín, Nelesh Govender, Andreas Groll, Thomas Lehrnbecher, Brendan McMullan, Alessio Mesini, Emmanuel Roilides, Maria Santolaya, Tanu Singhal, Bill Steinbach, Theo Zaoutis
  • Penta point of contact: Riccardo Melillo Verri

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

Our objectives:

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

Infection in Pregnancy and Vertical Transmission


  • Lead: Karoline Aebi-Popp
  • Deputy Lead: Catherine Wedderburn
  • Members: Heather Bailey, Angela Cobers, Eleni Nastouli, Claire Thorne
  • Penta point of contact: 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:

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

Respiratory Infections


  • Leads: Pablo Rojo, Alfredo Tagarro
  • Members: Eugenio Baraldi, Cristina Calvo, Chishala Chabala, Kahlert Christian, Costanza Di Chiara, Ali Judd, Marthe Le Prevost, Federico Martinón-Torres, Tisu Mvalo, Zoi-Dorothea Pana, Toni Soriano Arandes, Anna Turkova
  • Penta point of contact: Federica D’Ambrosio

“Our Respiratory Infections working group is dedicated to advancing scientific knowledge in the field of viral and bacterial respiratory infections in children. With a focus on improving understanding and reducing the impact of these infections, we aim to contribute to the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies. Our group actively conducts research to investigate the various aspects of respiratory infections in children, including their causes, transmission, risk factors, and long-term consequences. By generating robust evidence and fostering collaboration among experts, we strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children affected by respiratory infections.”

Our objectives:

  • To advance knowledge and improve diagnosis of viral and bacterial respiratory infections
  • To contribute to the development of new preventive or curative therapies
  • To address research gaps
  • To build synergies and avoid overlapping in the planned research studies of the Penta network

Severe Bacterial Infections and Anti-Microbial Resistance


  • Lead: Julia Bielicki
  • Deputy Lead: Angela Dramowski
  • Members: Jay Berkley, Hilda Angela Mujuru, Victor Musiime, Mike Sharland, Sithembiso Velaphi
  • Penta point of contact: 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:

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

Training & Education


  • Lead: Steve Welch
  • Deputy Lead: Alasdair Bamford
  • Members: Peter McEneaney (Penta Foundation), Matteo Bason (Penta Foundation), Suwalai Chalermpantmetagul, Magda Conway, Tristan Delory, Daniele Donà, Dora Estripeaut, Giuseppe Indolfi, Elizabeth Kaudha, Ruslan Malyuta, Laura Marques, Fatima Mir, Victor Musiime, Francesca Rocchi, Tatyana Solomenko, Alla Volokha, Adilia Warris
  • Penta point of contact: Melania Kowatch

“Our mission is to build a global network that conducts excellent research to help health systems achieve optimal outcomes for children.”

The Penta Training & Education Working Group has been developed to drive Penta’s training and education agenda by identifying areas of need, developing and implementing scientifically robust and high-quality training and education to support Penta’s scientific work in discovering and implementing the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases in children.

Training and education are key to both discovery and implementation in Penta’s mission – to build a global network that conducts excellent research to help health systems achieve optimal outcomes for children. Discovery requires training in first class research methodology; implementation means the dissemination of the knowledge base and ethos of excellent clinical practice. Education is the set of Penta educational activities designed for the education of the public in the field of paediatric infectious diseases and with particular focus on prevention and treatment of such diseases.