Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

The story of meningitis and its prevention

Andy Hopkinson | 29th July 2021

A new book, Brain Fever, tells the story of meningitis and its prevention by vaccination and makes for an entertaining, sometimes shocking, but always compelling portrait of how science changes lives

Brain Fever - the story of meningitis and its prevention

Written by Professor Richard Moxon of the University of Oxford - who will be known to many supporters through his long-standing association with the charity - Brain Fever: How Vaccines Prevent Meningitis and Other Killer Diseases, explains in a clear, non-technical style, what meningitis is, what causes it, who gets it and how research has come up with vaccines that can prevent it. 

Paediatrician Moxon engages the reader in a compelling story of how chance, opportunity and passion drew him into researching the bacteria that are the lethal assassins of unsuspecting, previously healthy people, especially young children. 

The reader is taken on a journey from his boyhood dream to study medicine to adventurous experiences as a junior doctor in London, a ship’s surgeon and then a trainee in infectious diseases in Boston, USA. 

Hooked on a research career

There he became hooked on a research career and in the subsequent four decades, first as a professor at John Hopkins and then at Oxford University, Moxon traces his personal involvement with an extraordinary and inspiring group of scientists who pioneered a milestone in medical history: the development of vaccines to prevent bacterial meningitis

Brain Fever provides expert insight into what it takes to develop a vaccine. Moxon takes the reader from basic research through clinical trials to the logistics and politics of implementing a vaccine. 

As we are learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vaccines that we rely on to fight and overcome the devastation caused by virulent pathogens. His message is clear and challenging: no other intervention in the history of medicine confers a greater public health benefit than immunisation. 

Insight into the world of medical science

Written by an ‘insider’ who was deeply involved in research on meningitis and its prevention, the author is ideally placed to provide an authoritative insight into the world of medical science 

His major research interests have been on the pathogenesis and prevention of sepsis and meningitis caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis. Moxon is the founder and first director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and the Director of the Centre for Clinical Vaccinology, named the Moxon Building in 2014.

Brain Fever - the story of meningitis and its prevention

This 250-page book is for non-specialist, informed readers with a broad interest in science and its impact on society. 

It will also be of interest to all health care professionals, general science students and science teachers. It costs £50 for hardback and £19.99 for paperback from publishers World Scientific Publishing, on their website at

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