Dr. Richardson’s research is focused on two main themes:
1) Improvements in the diagnosis and understanding of paediatric infectious diseases:
In these two main areas, progress is being made in the diagnosis of paediatric respiratory infections (i.e. colds, flu-like illnesses) and serious, life-threatening fungal infections in patients with cancer. Based on our experience with SARS in 2003, we have determined what are the best and quickest methods to diagnose respiratory infections from samples taken from different areas of the body. We are using very sensitive techniques based on detecting very small amounts of genetic material of the viruses in question. This will permit us to rapidly detect cases of newly emerging infections such as SARS and avian influenza and to distinguish them from other less severe infections such as RSV and parainfluenza infection. This will have a significant impact on the control of the spread of these infections should they be introduced or re-introduced into our community.
2) Fungal Infections in the Immunocompromised Host:
Work is focused on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment and outcome of serious invasive fungal infections that occur primarily in the immunocommpromised host. These infections are increasing as the population of successfully treated cancer and transplant patients increases, with their concomitant immunosuppression. Laboratory work includes the development of techniques for the rapid detection of invasive fungal infections, the development of strain typing systems for the 5 most common species involved in invasive candidiasis, and the study of trends in susceptibility to antifungal agents of Candida species.