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Microbes and Society @ Exeter

Addressing Social Justice Challenges of Co-infections

After meeting at a Microbes & Society symposium, Dr Seána Duggan (Microbiology) and Professor Robin Pierce (Law) formed an alliance, investigating the social implications of co-infections. Seána is a research fellow with interests in human infections; her research programme investigates the mechanisms used by bacteria and fungi to cause disease. Robin has expertise in law, policy and ethics and a current research focus on artificial intelligence and health inequalities.

As the medical microbiology field begins to explore the cellular and molecular aspects of co-infections at pace, Seána and Robin believe we must also consider the social justice implications co-infections have on our communities. While co-infections have the potential to impact the most vulnerable in our society, we must also consider the universality of vulnerability, and that we may all be susceptible over our lifetimes. Their work aims to position co-infections on the larger policy agenda, and argues for a deeper understanding of factors contributing to co-infections to ultimately inform diagnostics, treatment, and artificial intelligence prediction of outcomes.

The collaboration of microbiology with the law is truly interdisciplinary. Through this work, each has adapted to different working styles and ways of thinking. Their work is still in its infancy, and this will page will be updated as outputs begin to develop.

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