Dr Ruth Harvey
Ruth Harvey’s interest in science has always been linked to its use for public health. After completing her degree in biological sciences from the University of Plymouth, Ruth first worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 2 years at a small diagnostic company before moving to the University of Reading in 1997, as a research assistant for Dr (now Professor) Wendy Barclay.
It was in Dr Barclay’s lab Ruth first started working with influenza virus. She soon realised this was a fascinating virus to work with and went on to complete her PhD in 2003 jointly between the lab at Reading University and the Public Health Laboratory Service (now Public Health England) laboratory in Colindale with Dr Barclay and Dr Maria Zambon.
From there Ruth moved to the University of Oxford to complete a post-doctoral research position at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology with Professor George Brownlee. This was still working with influenza virus but it focused on academic research rather than the applied research Ruth had worked on in the past, investigating factors in the influenza virus polymerase associated with host restriction.
In 2006, Ruth left the Dunn School to move to NIBSC for a 3-year Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded post-doctoral research position working for Dr Jim Robertson, and once she got to NIBSC she realised this was exactly the right place for her. The work has a vital and direct impact on human health, and there is still enough freedom in the research for academic interest.
At the end of her 3-year contract the group secured another 3-year grant to extend the work from the original project and when Dr Jim Robertson retired Ruth took over his position as one of the two principal scientists heading the influenza group.
Currently Ruth has 4 members of staff and oversees the areas of molecular biology and a number of the seasonal influenza activites, including:
- candidate vaccine virus production
- influenza seed viruses
- serology testing for the WHO strain selection meetings
- generation of sheep sera for the SRD assay
As well as the more routine functions the group carries carry out, Ruth’s group works on research, predominantly in the area of improving candidate vaccine viruses.