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Meningitis Awareness Week. Picture shows L-R MRF CEO Vinny Smith, supporter Devkee Trevedi, and MRF ambassador Mike Davies at the WHO meeting during Meningitis Awareness Week. For further details contact Sophie Beyer 07875 498047.Meningitis Awareness Week photo

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF)

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive, MRF

A Bristol resident for 15 years, both kids born, schooled and raised in Bristol, and MRF is based on Park Street in central Bristol.

Favourite thing/place about Bristol

Its relentless sense of doing things ‘the Bristol way’, where work-life balance matters but so does achieving good in the world. Watching the balloon fiesta rise and sweep across the city skyline and my house is a highlight of every year. The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children saved my son’s life on the day he was born, so they will forever be special to me. And having two world-class Universities, one of which I’m a Business Fellow and guest lecturer at, and the other being one of the leading centres in the UK for research into Meningitis and also COVID-19.


Bristol is a world-leading centre for bringing together the patient voice and civil society globally in the fight against meningitis. But too often, traditional investors and funders think London is the only centre of innovation in the UK. That myth needs busting wide open.

Future plans

MRF is scaling up our work on the back of securing the world’s first global roadmap for meningitis at the World Health Assembly in 2020. Collaboration between and within public and private sectors is crucial for this to happen and we need more interconnected working across sectors within the city to further leverage the fantastic base of expertise that already exists.

What has changed since COVID-19

Infectious diseases are the topic of the day. The scientists and researchers we have worked with for years right here in Bristol are the same people now tackling COVID-19 around the world. The lessons learned from meningitis are often highly relevant for COVID-19.

Wheelchair basketball

How have Bristol’s values/creativity/independent spirt supported resilience or recovery and your future plans?

As lockdown unlocks and we recover from perhaps too much independence, we’re looking forward to doing things our own way again, together. That means our team is talking about decompressing from lockdown and reinventing what ‘the best place to work’ means all over again.

What you want to see for Bristol going forwards?

Selfishly, I’d like it to have a reputation as the city that led the way in defeating meningitis globally and brought together the necessary partners and investors that can make that happen.