Students in Focus – where are they now?
We revisit some of the early career researchers from our past Students in Focus to see where they are now and how their EAVI2020 experiences have helped them along the way.
We continue to be very proud and celebrate the successes of the early career researchers who took part in our Continuing Education & Training in HIV vaccine development programme. Over the past year, our EAVI2020 Students in Focus series has shone a spotlight on the students to hear from them about their experience in the programme. Here, we catch up with Nathifa and Alessandra.
What work did you do as part of EAVI? and what are you up to now?
I was based at The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford for 5 years as a postdoctoral researcher in the EAVI consortium. There, I was involved in the development of a T-cell vaccine for HIV-1 using the novel T-cell based immunogens, tHIVconsvX. Newly emerging technologies were combined to maximize the potential for inducing effective and durable T-cell responses in pre-clinical and clinical models. In addition, multiple vectors for antigen delivery, such as simian (chimpanzee) adenovirus (ChAdOx1), poxvirus-modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) and new technologies like messenger RNA (mRNA), were assessed to determine if these systems offer opportunities to enhance cellular immune responses.
I have since moved to biotech and joined the Immunology research team at Enara Bio, where my current focus is based on the development of novel T-cell based immunotherapies for cancer.
What did you find most valuable about being part of the EAVI2020 training and development programme?
The training and development programme provided opportunities to network and learn from other academic, industry and public health partners. It provided tremendous insight and knowledge into the process of vaccine development from bench construction to pre-clinical animal models and finally to the clinics.
Any recent highlights to share?
I was presented with the 2021 HIVR4P Mathieson New Investigator Award in HIV Research. This was awarded for my research and published work in Moyo et al., 2020: Tetravalent immunogen assembled from conserved regions of HIV-1 and delivered as mRNA demonstrates potent preclinical T cell immunogenicity and breath. In 2018, I was awarded with the Human Vaccine Trail Network (HVTN) Translational HIV Vaccine Early-Stage Investigator Award.
What work did you do as part of EAVI and what are you up to now?
I have been part of the EAVI 2020 consortium since I was a PhD student. I worked on my PhD thesis on developing an IDLV (Integrase Defective Lentiviral Vector) based HIV vaccine using EAVI rationally designed HTI and UFO antigens. At present, as a post-doc, I am still working on improving and implementing IDLV as a vaccine platform for HIV and the novel SARS 2 coronavirus.
What did you value most about being part of the EAVI2020 training and development programme?
During the EAVI2020 training and development programme, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to share knowledge, expertise and data with other students and with PIs by acquiring very useful contacts and collaborations for my project. Also, writing abstracts, creating posters and presenting my work was a great opportunity to improve my skills.
Any new publications to share with us?
Gallinaro A, Borghi M, Pirillo MF, et al. Development and Preclinical Evaluation of an Integrase Defective Lentiviral Vector Vaccine Expressing the HIVACAT T Cell Immunogen in Mice. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.omtm.2020.01.013
Gallinaro A, Pirillo MF, Aldon Y, et al. Persistent Immunogenicity of Integrase Defective Lentiviral Vectors delivering membrane tethered Native-Like HIV-1 Envelope Trimers (pre-print). Submitted to NPJ vaccines.