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Medical Students Rise To COVID-19 Challenge By Supporting Research At Yeovil District Hospital

Medical Students Rise To COVID-19 Challenge By Supporting Research At Yeovil District Hospital

Medical students in the South West have been volunteering their time to support local COVID-19 research studies. They have been supporting the SIREN (Sarscov2 Immunity & Reinfection EvaluatioN) study at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Trust, which investigates the impact of the detectable ‘anti SARS-COV2’ antibody on the incidence of COVID-19 in healthcare workers. It is funded by Public Health England (PHE) and supported by the NIHR.

There is currently no firm evidence that testing positive for SARS-COV2 antibodies can make the carrier less likely to contract or transmit the virus again in the future. This study hopes to determine whether those staff who have a positive test have greater protection against the virus in the future. A broad range of healthcare staff across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset are taking part in this study.

Anthony Charalambous (pictured below) is one of the medical students currently involved in supporting the study in Yeovil. He is a third year medical student at Bristol Medical School at the University of Bristol and has worked as a Senior Care Assistant alongside his studies. He volunteered to support the national SIREN Study at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Trust, where he was due to take up a placement at the end of summer.

Anthony Charalambous

Anthony originally trained as a Health Care Assistant (HCA) and when the medical students in his year were offered the opportunity to help support these brand new COVID-19 research studies, he was keen to get some additional hands on healthcare experience. This even involved Anthony moving from Bristol to Yeovil to support the study over the summer. By becoming involved, Anthony was able to access additional training, such as the NIHR’s Good Clinical Practice course.

Anthony said: “Studying as a medical student you don’t necessarily get the chance to work as a close part of the medical team at a hospital. By volunteering to support the SIREN Study I had the opportunity to meet nurses and HCAs from a range of different backgrounds, and really feel like part of the team.”

“Research is definitely important. It ensures the things we decide to do are influenced by evidence-based medicine, improving clinical outcomes for people and reducing the costs for the NHS. Working on SIREN, the need for health research is clear; we need to find a cure. A lot of people are signing up to do this in their own time knowing that this research can contribute to the development of a treatment. Health research is about helping people, reducing suffering and improving ailments.”

“As a personal experience, becoming involved in research during the pandemic has stressed the importance of being prepared for anything. The current world situation, whilst stressful for all involved, has offered unique experiences and opportunities. I think it is important to make the best of what is thrown your way. It’s been quite the learning curve, but at the same time I’ve been happy to take it on.”

Sarah Board, Clinical Research Nurse at Yeovil District Hospital NHS Trust, commented: “Medical students have played a fundamental role in Yeovil Hospital being able to recruit over 250 staff members into the SIREN Study, especially in a small District General Hospital. One of the three medical students, Anthony, has dedicated all of his time since being unable to attend medical school, to working with the research team to ensure recruitment and follow- ups run smoothly. His enthusiasm for wanting to help run the SIREN clinic has been commendable. It has been a great opportunity to be involved in research early in their careers and hopefully it will inspire them to be involved in research in the future.”

Anthony added: “I would like to thank the Yeovil District Hospital research team and the medical school academy team. Everyone involved has been supportive and insightful. It’s times like these that you realise what you’re made of and what you can do to help people. Before this opportunity I felt quite helpless during this global situation, but when I was offered this opportunity I was happy to move from Bristol to Yeovil to take on this challenge.”


Are you a South West NHS member of staff interested in taking part in the SIREN study?

For Yeovil District Hospital staff please contact:

For other NHS staff in the South West please contact your local Research & Development (R&D) Department or if unsure please contact us at and we can put you in touch with your local team.


Are you a medical student or a member of healthcare staff and interested in learning more about health and care research?

The NIHR locally offers a range of training opportunities, including Good Clinical Practice which is required by all healthcare staff wishing to support local NIHR studies. Find out more by visiting or contacting