The PERFORM project wins the PIER award

With support from NIHR, we have run the Paediatric Involvement and Engagement in Research (PIER) award for the second year now to recognise multi-disciplinary teams that involve and engage children and young people in their research. Here, we speak with the winning team about their project.
PERFORM team - Pier Prize 2020 winners
The PERFORM team

After receiving many excellent applications, the winners of the PIER award are the team behind the PERFORM project, including Dr Emma Lim, Professor Marieke Emonts, Dr Jo Ball, Dr Jethro Herberg and Young Person's Advisory Group North East (YPAG-ne).

The PERFORM study aims to develop new molecular diagnostic tests for childhood fevers, to help differentiate the cause of fevers and identify which children are at risk of serious invasive infections. Children and young people (CYP) were involved in the study from the very beginning, helping shape the resources and the consent process, in addition to inspiring many initiatives such as a pop-up hospital.

We hear from Professor Nick Bishop, Vice President for Science and Research:

Emma Lim and her team have been working on co-production of work on molecular diagnostics for childhood fever in order to identify those at most risk of serious infections. At the heart of the PERFORM study is the concept of co-production – working with CYP and parents to develop the study and take it forward. They have developed together innovative approaches to proportionate consent, the use of CYP’s anonymised data, and involved CYP not just in the study itself but also the dissemination of the results, working to create a pro-research culture. This is a model that we can all use in our future research.

We spoke to Dr Emma Lim about the PERFORM project and the value of involving children and young people in research.

About the PERFORM project

Fever is one of the most common and important medical problems in children. Parents identified that while many cancer trials exist there was a lack of research around childhood fever. “How do we tell the difference between bacterial and viral infections?” and “How can we predict which children are going to get seriously ill?” are questions that haunt both paediatricians and parents.

These became the aims of the PERFORM study, to develop new molecular diagnostic tests to help identify which children are at risk of serious invasive infections and what the cause of childhood fevers. 

Why did you apply, and what does it mean to you and your team to win this award?

I applied because I know how much time and effort the children and young people (CYP) who work with us have put in and I wanted this recognised. I think that so many people underestimate what they can accomplish and I thought it would be a good way to highlight how CYP can really be involved and engaged in paediatric research.  

Why is involving CYP in your research so important?    

Maisie Ward, YPAG-ne member

What makes the PERFORM project successful is that children, young persons and families have always been central. Too much research has happened without children. From the beginning our study was designed and co-produced by children and young people (CYP). We undertook a four-year project with the Young Person’s Advisory Group North east (YPAG-ne) to explore views on consent and review consent forms. The study received National Ethics Committee approval based on this work.

Maisie Ward YPAG-ne member explained, “Educating adults on children's and young people’s views is important. If researchers understand our views better then, they can design better studies, surveys and information and educational resources for us. We want to help them help inform us.”

The PIER award will be running again for 2022. Keep an eye out for more information.