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Archive: Apr 2020

  1. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Philipp Mundsperger (Polymun Scientific, Austria)

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    Let’s meet Philipp Mundsperger.

    photo of Phillipp Mundsperger

    PhD student at Polymun Scientific and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria

    Hi! My name is Philipp and I am a PhD student at Polymun Scientific and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. Within the scope of the EAVI2020 framework I am found on the industry side of the programme where my colleagues and I have worked on the manufacturing of soluble variants of the HIV-virus envelope glycoprotein (HIV-1 Env) as prospective vaccine antigens. Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to get to know lots of aspects of vaccine manufacturing, such as the generation of cell lines for the production of vaccine antigens, the production in small and large scale, as well as new methods to ensure quality and safety of the final protein product. Looking back I have to say it was challenging to dig into a very specialised topic in a short amount of time, but that has been the time when I’ve learned the most – professionally and personally. Besides the daily life in the lab, the EAVI2020 PhD training program provided me with the opportunity to attend several training courses and annual consortium meetings, held and organised by partnering institutions.  Stimulating discussions among fellow students and PIs about new ideas or difficiculties have made those  courses and meetings a great source of motivation to put my own work in the context of the bigger picture of EAVI2020. After graduating I plan to find a job in industry, since I love to work at the interface between applied science and application. Especially now, that I am approaching the final phase of my PhD I am feeling grateful that I have had the chance to get involved with the EAVI2020 community – a truly amazing and inspiring group of people, both in terms of scientific excellence and collaborating efforts.

  2. EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Nathifa Moyo (University of Oxford, UK)

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    It’s that time again to shine a light on EAVI2020’s students. So put up your feet, turn off the barrage of incoming COVID-19 news and let’s meet Nathifa Moyo.

    Written by Nathifa Moyo

    Profile photo of Nathifa Moyo

    Nathifa is a Senior Postdoctoral Immunologist at University of Oxford focussing on Studies on HIV-1 vaccine development

    My research within EAVI2020 is based at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, UK. There, as a Postdoctoral Immunologist in the laboratory of Professor Tomáš Hanke, my work is dedicated to performing in-depth analyses of vaccine-elicited responses in individuals and small animal models vaccinated with novel T cell-based immunogens. Multiple vectors for antigen delivery, such as simian (chimpanzee) adenovirus (ChAdOx1) and new technologies like mRNA, are being assessed to determine if these systems can enhance cellular immune responses.

    Initially, being a part of such a large consortium was challenging, as most projects aim to induce antibody-mediated immunity and my work aims to induce T-cell immunity. However, opportunities to participate in annual meetings offered knowledge exchange leading to a successful collaboration with consortium partners BioNTech and highlighted how all projects complement one another to ultimately achieve EAVI2020’s objectives.

    The early-stage career training programmes have been extremely rewarding and offered diverse topics with hands-on experience. These include GMP vaccine production at the Biotech company Polymun Scientific in Vienna, pre-clinical non-human primate studies at the CEA in Paris and assessing antibody-mediated responses at the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid. Collectively, they provided a greater understanding of how vaccines are progressed in an iterative process leading to translation of the best strategies to clinics. To experience different research environments and learn from the experts in those labs have been tremendous and have inspired new research ideas. The generosity of staff, who gave their time to conduct these courses, has filled me with immense gratitude. To those students/postdocs considering similar programmes, please know that the benefits will be invaluable.

    It is hoped that my career will continue to advance within this field, incorporating host-pathogen interaction studies to improve vaccine design. The accomplishments of the consortium should be applauded and demonstrates that collective efforts of the scientific community can have a greater impact.

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    Throughout the past four years, the students of EAVI2020 have worked tirelessly in The Continuing Education & Training in HIV vaccine development programme. This is a work package of the EAVI2020 project dedicated to the employment and training of young scientists in Europe. It comprises of scientific fellowships, student exchange, wet workshops, and a PhD Programme to maximise the training of the next generation of young scientists in the field of vaccine development. It is now time we shine a positive spotlight on the students to hear from them about their experience in the programme, lessons learned, and what they hope to achieve moving beyond EAVI2020s. ‘EAVI2020 Students in Focus’ will be a regular news feature so be sure to subscribe to the EAVI2020 newsletter to get the latest updates.  In this issue, we feature.