The lung has a large surface area, is open to the outside world and is the site for some of the most common serious infections, in particular pneumonia. Several bacteria, viruses and some less common lung infections including tuberculosis and fungal disease can damage the lung, and some occupations and pastimes increase this risk.
The heart is less susceptible to infection but infections of the heart valves or structures around the heart, and heart muscle inflammation can be severe. Some lung infections are becoming less common due to vaccination, whilst others are likely to increase globally. Infections via the respiratory route are often the most difficult to combat via public health measures.
Christopher Whitty CB FRCP FMedSci is Gresham Professor of Physic (the term for medicine when the post was created in 1597) at Gresham College, Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Consultant Physician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
Professor Whitty is also Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIHR). He is involved in many day-to-day public health decisions for the UK, especially for infectious diseases and emergencies.
He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Science and Engineering Profession and was previously Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Professor Whitty has worked as a clinician and in public health research in the UK, Africa and Asia. He undertook his postgraduate training in epidemiology, economics and medical law.
A multidisciplinary research scientist, he is current in many areas of science and has an international reputation. Professor Whitty’s work spans the breadth of medicine, while his research has mainly focused on infectious disease and diseases of poverty in the UK, Africa and Asia. Infectious diseases are the theme for his first series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic.