Announcement winners of the TBVI Young Scientist Award 2017

TBVI is pleased to announce the 3 winners of the young scientist award 2017.

Each of these winners are outstanding scientist in the TB vaccine R&D field. TBVI wishes them a very successful career and is looking forward to work with them to discover and develop new safe, effective and affordable TB vaccines

The winners are:

1) Rachel Tanner is currently a Post-doctoral Scientist under Professor Helen McShane at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford. Rachel obtained an academic scholarship for her BA in Biological Sciences, and was awarded a studentship from the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare for her PhD studies (both at University of Oxford). Her PhD was concerned with the development and optimisation of a cross-species mycobacterial growth inhibition assay (MGIA) as a potential biomarker for the early evaluation of novel TB vaccine candidates as well as a tractable system for exploring underlying immune mechanisms. There has been considerable interest in the MGIA from other groups internationally. Rachel is continuing to validate the MGIA as part of her Post-doctoral research and has recently been awarded an NC3Rs grant to transfer the non-human primate MGIA to partner laboratories and investigate associated immune correlates of mycobacterial control

2) Susanna Commandeur currently a Post-doctoral scientist at the department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control of VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam. Susanna identified during her PhD at LUMC, Leiden a new subset of in vivo expressed M. tuberculosis antigens (IVE-TB) and explore their potential as antigens in a new TB vaccine. These dormancy and resuscitation associated protein antigens were shown to be immunogenic and IVE-TB protein Rv2034 induced a protective reponse in mice. During her postdoc at the VUmc, Amsterdam she worked on the development of a persister zebrafish embryo infection model for drug screening purposes and recently started to study the formation of lipid bodies in mycobacteria and identify the role of these structures in antibiotic tolerance, the topic of the VENI grant that she received last year. Her goal is to understand the adaptive capacities of mycobacteria to the host environment and by this reveal new targets for vaccine and drug discovery and contribute to understanding the function of known vaccine antigens.

3) Fadel Sayes obtained his Master’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Aleppo in 2005. Three years later, he relocated to Paris, France to join the University of Paris XI (Paris-Sud) where he obtained a Master’s degree in Immunology in 2009.
Being fascinated by the immune system he pursed his PhD studies in Immunology at the University of Paris VII (Paris-Diderot) and completed this in 2013. During his doctoral studies carried out in Prof. Claude Leclerc’s lab at Pasteur Institute in Paris, he investigated the role of the ESX-5 type VII secretion system of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in virulence, immunogenicity, and host-pathogen interaction. His thesis work opens new prospects for the development of a new live-attenuated vaccine against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Sayes et al., Cell Host & Microbe, 2012). He has now joined Prof. Roland Brosch’s lab at the Pasteur Institute in 2013 as Post-Doctoral researcher. He has worked on characterizing the fine composition of adaptive immune cells in response to immunization with different live-attenuated or subunit anti-tuberculosis vaccine candidates (Sayes et al., PLoS Pathogens, 2016), and how these can be influenced to achieve improved vaccine efficacy in the mouse model of tuberculosis infection. Currently, he works on the identification of key molecular mechanisms of secretion of major ESX-associated virulence factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis using innovative immunological tools.

Each prize consists of a scholarship (covering the conference fee and the travel and accommodation expenses) to attend one relevant scientific conference/symposium/training course.