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SWLP says a sad farewell to virologist Dr David Carrington

The end of March marked the retirement of St George’s Hospital Virologist Dr David Carrington. David, who had worked at the Trust previously, rejoined the team in Microbiology in 2014, just as South West London Pathology was being formed. He played a key role the centralisation and modernisation of microbiology services in the region, including high throughput automated serology and molecular diagnostics, which have become key to the way microbiology services are delivered at SWLP.

David with his retirement card from his colleagues at St George’s Hospital

David’s interest in the field of virology began in 1971 when he attended Queen Mary College, University of London, and attained his BSc in Microbiology. He then studied medicine at the London Hospital Medical College (now part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry), graduating in 1976. 

He entered the field of clinical virology in 1978, as a registrar in Clinical Virology and Infectious Diseases at the Regional Virus Laboratory and Infectious Hospital based at Ruchill Hospital in Glasgow, moving to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith Hospital in 1979. During his time at Hammersmith Hospital, he was in involved in the use of one of the first effective oral non-toxic antiviral drugs (aciclovir). He also completed the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and achieved his Membership Exam from the Royal College of Pathologist (RCPath) in Medical Virology.

David first came to St George’s in 1994 as Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, before moving to Bristol to take up a post as clinical services director at the Bristol Public Health Laboratory in 2004. He returned to St George’s in 2014 to take up the role of Consultant Virologist.

David’s career spans many notable developments and events in virology, including:

  • the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics, which fundamentally changed the field of diagnostic virology
  • the development and use of the first real antiviral drugs
  • the introduction of molecular diagnostic methods into NHS diagnostic laboratories. 

His knowledge and experience cover the traditional diagnostic methods, from electron microscopy and tissue culture to complement fixation tests and immunoassays to immunofluorescence to modern high-throughput high-scale molecular diagnostics to point-of-care testing.  He has published over 100 scientific papers in various aspects of virology but notably in relation to VZV, CMV, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, Q fever, mycoplasma and especially chlamydia pneumoniae and its role in atherosclerosis. 

He is well recognised for his experience and expertise in diagnosis and management of congenital CMV and his key role in the development and real-world deployment of capillary blood testing for blood borne viruses, which is now leading the way towards elimination of hepatitis C.

Apart from virology and microbiology, David is a renowned pianist, enjoying music for leisure but also giving recitals.  He is officially retiring now, although will no doubt continue to contribute to the fields of virology and music for years to come.

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