Gail Carson

International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC)

Steering Committee Member

Dr Gail Carson is a Consultant in Infectious Diseases who in 2012 moved from Public Health England, Porton Down to help set up the global federation of the hospital based clinical research networks called ISARIC. She was frustrated with trying to provide clinicians during outbreaks with clinical management advice based on weak evidence. ISARIC was set up to try to make sure that clinical research is done and done quickly during outbreaks. ISARIC has responded to COVID19 via CoCIN and ISARIC4C, via a pre-approved Clinical Characterisation Protocol (CCP) in the UK and internationally with a database hosting 100,000 patient entries from over 40 countries.

Dr Carson graduated from Edinburgh Medical School in 1994, received her Tropical Medicine Diploma in 1999 and completed her infectious disease training in Manchester in 2008. Over the past 20 years she has worked with WHO at country level responding to outbreaks e.g. VHFs (Kosova, Gabon, Uganda and Angola) and Geneva for SARS, 2003 and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. During the same time frame she has sat on multiple WHO committees and working groups including the WHO Blueprint prioritization meeting and COVID19 infection control working group. In 2017 she was elected to the Steering Committee of the Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN) and asked to set up the research arm of GOARN. In 2018 she was elected Deputy Chair and remains in that position.

From 2008 to 2012 Dr Carson worked as a Rare & Imported Pathogens Consultant at the HPA/PHE, Porton Down, England. During this time she was the PI on an Aerosol Generating Procedure project based in hospitals during the 2009 pandemic. Responded to a number of outbreaks and imported cases including CCHFv, Anthrax in drug users, Q fever and Hantavirus. As a clinical consultant, she worked at Liverpool Royal Infirmary during the setting up of ISARIC between 2008 and 2012. During the 2009 pandemic response she set up the HPA ICU network and was awarded an honorary medical award from the Intensive Care Society, and co-authored a number of publications/guidance documents around case management in the ICU setting and the public health teams. In 2012 she decided to move full time to ISARIC with one other staff member. Since then, under various Executive Directors, external funding support & outstanding voluntary hours by many clinical researchers ISARIC is thriving. ISARIC is the technical secretariat to the research funders’ consortium GloPID R (includes Wellcome, MRC, DfID, EC, BMGF) and Dr Carson is the focal point. The past year has focused on coordination of research funding calls and the COVID19 response. In 2018, she was awarded a Distinction in the Diploma of Organisational Leadership at the Said Business School, University of Oxford. Decision making during public health emergencies is an ongoing interest following her Diploma project.

Between March and May 2020 Dr Carson supported the Enhanced Surveillance Cell of Public Health Scotland in their COVID19 response.