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The frontline of vaccine development

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Vaccines have saved millions of lives worldwide, and are a key global health intervention. In this talk, we are thrilled to have three eminent professors speaking, all experts working to develop new vaccines for diseases such as influenza, HPV and Ebola. Each speaker will give an insight into their work, before coming together as a panel to discuss the role of vaccination in the fight against infectious disease.

Our speakers: Professor Margaret Stanley Every 2 minutes somewhere in the world a woman dies of cervical cancer – cancer caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) and is a preventable disease. Currently, there are 3 prophylactic virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines being developed, using sophisticated recombinant molecular techniques and protein expression. In this talk, Professor Margaret Stanley shares her work on the human papillomavirus and the current vaccination schemes for HPV . She is currently an Emeritus Professor of Epithelial Biology in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge. She also serves as the President of the International Papillomavirus Society (IPVS) and is very active in advocating for HPV vaccination. She sits on the Working Group for HPV vaccines advising the WHO Strategic Advisory group of Experts (SAGE). In 2010, Professor Stanley was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP) for her contributions to cervical cancer and cervical pre-cancers research.

Professor Derek Smith In his talk, Professor Derek Smith will discuss his work on studying the evolution of the influenza virus and other rapidly evolving pathogens. Professor Smith is the director of the Centre for Pathogen Evolution here in Cambridge as well as a research scientist in the Department of Virology at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. His work has proved salient for the development of vaccines for modern day epidemics. His experimental and mathematical work is currently being used to predict the evolution of the influenza virus, and he works with the WHO to select the composition of the influenza vaccine (each year).

Professor Jonathan Heeney In his talk, Professor Jonathan Heeney will discuss a trivalent haemorrhagic fever vaccine against Lassa Fever, Marbug, Ebola and related Filoviruses using novel vaccine technology. These haemorrhagic fever viruses are among the most highly contagious viruses in Africa and are listed as top-10 priority diseases by the World Health Organisation. They occur in overlapping regions of sub-Saharan Africa and a single vaccine to prevent outbreaks of haemorrhagic fever caused by these arenaviruses and filoviruses would be of great public and global health benefit. Jonathan Heeney is Head of The Laboratory of Viral Zoonotics. His research focuses on cross species transmissions of viruses, and the co-evolution of viruses and their hosts including the evolution of immune mechanisms of disease protection in naturally infected but disease resistant species. Not only has this interest led to the discovery of a number of new viruses, but also genetic comparison of host and viral sequences from the same individual. Currently his laboratory applies these molecular technologies to gain an understanding of successful host immune responses to RNA viruses. Translationally this information is utilized for the rational design of novel vaccines for the prevention of diseases caused by notoriously complex viral pathogens.

This talk is part of the Global health lecture series series.

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