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Research groups

Tonia Thomas

DPhil, BSc (Hons)


Vaccine Knowledge Project Manager

  • DPhil Physiology Anatomy & Genetics
  • Wilkinson Junior Research Fellow

I am currently leading on communication and public engagement for the COVID-19 vaccine trial. This includes developing and delivering our communications strategy, managing the trial website, and producing content for the public and press. This study is a collaboration between the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. For more information about the trial, please visit https://covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/.


After completing my BSc in Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, I undertook my DPhil as part of the British Heart Foundation Oxbridge Centre of Regenerative Medicine. For my DPhil research I investigated the molecular mechanisms involved with forming new blood vessels after a heart attack, particularly focusing on the endocardium as a source of de novo coronary vessels. This project employed molecular biology techniques and genetic sequencing to uncover novel pathways for therapeutic potential.

During the course of my DPhil I maintained interests in public health, policy, and science communication, and alongside my research I engaged in voluntary work, conferences and societies to expand my knowledge in these areas. I have been involved with University outreach projects such as Oxford Hands-On Science, Pathways, and Oxplore, aiming to widen access to higher education and engage children and young people with STEM. I have also undertaken campaign work and fundraising for the British Heart Foundation, provided guidance for Ugandan social enterprise ventures with UniTED OxMAK, University of Makerere, Kampala, and chaired international debates for GlobalMUN, Shanghai. 

I joined the Oxford Vaccine Group in 2019 as the Vaccine Knowledge Project Manager. I maintain the Vaccine Knowledge Project website and lead the communications strategy for Oxford Vaccine Group. I undertake quantitative and qualitative research to understand vaccine attitudes and to identify the most effective communication tools for vaccination campaigns. I am actively engaged with the public, schools and health professionals to share knowledge on vaccine development and vaccine attitudes, and collaborate with clinical investigators and social science researchers to ensure we are using the most relevant evidence-based approaches for our work. I also lead the Patient and Public Involvement Advisory Group at OVG, including the development of the group's PPI Framework.

Articles

Thomas, T.M. and Pollard, A.J. (March 2020). Vaccine communication in a digital societyNature Materials. 

Thomas, T.M., Vanderslott, S., Pollard, A.J., (March 2020). Coronavirus vaccine: here are the steps it will need to go through during development. The Conversation.

Thomas, T.M. (March 2020). The power of community immunity. New Scientist, print issue 3274. Collaboration with Media Planet, page 6

Thomas, T.M. (June 2019). 100 years of vaccination – how did we get here?New Scientist, print issue 3236. Collaboration with health awareness.co.uk. 

Dube, K., Thomas, T.M., Munshaw, S., Rohling, M., Riley, P. and Smart, N. (Nov 2017). Recapitulation of developmental mechanisms to revascularise the ischemic heartJCI Insight