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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.

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