The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we view vaccines. If we can produce a vaccine in 1 year that can combat a worldwide virus. Why can we not create a vaccine that protects 20 million pregnant women worldwide from being infected with Group B Strep? A vaccine that could prevent child death and long-term health implications for babies. This global conference on Group B Strep discusses this question and many others regarding the consequences of having this disease. Please join us in this and many other crucial and varied discussions.
Group B Strep affects around 20 million pregnant women from around the world. It is a disease that matters to every family in every country. Action is needed now to combat this Disease. If not caught early, the consequences from having Group B Strep can result in either death or long-term health issues for the child. If seen in time, this disease can be combated with antibiotics. But we would like to use our platform to promote the possible use of a GBS vaccine which will be able to stop GBS in its tracks. To find out more please join us for the 2nd ISSAD Conference 2021.
MD, MPH – Keynote SpeakerRead Bio
Dr Kate O’Brien is Director of the Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Department at the World Health Organization. In this role, she is responsible for leading WHO’s strategy and implementation to advance the vision of a world where everyone, everywhere, at every age, fully benefits from vaccines for good health and wellbeing. The Department works across all levels of WHO (country, region and headquarters) in collaboration with partners to support countries in achieving the optimum use and impact of vaccines. Dr O’Brien also serves as WHO’s Technical Lead of the COVID Vaccine Pillar (COVAX), a part of the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). The mission of COVAX is to deliver 2 billion doses of the COVID vaccine by the end of 2021, to help end the acute phase of the pandemic.
Dr O’Brien is a Canadian who trained as a pediatric infectious disease physician, epidemiologist and vaccinologist. She earned her BSc in chemistry from the University of Toronto (Canada), her MD from McGill University (Canada), and her MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (US) before completing her training at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer, in the Respiratory Diseases Branch. Prior to joining WHO she was Professor of International Health and Epidemiology and Executive Director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research and policy work focused on vaccine-preventable illnesses, especially for pneumonia-causing pathogens including pneumococcal disease; Haemophilus influenzae type b; respiratory syncytial virus and influenza.
Track 1 Parallel Session MCRead Bio
Carol J. Baker, M.D. is a professor of paediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston and was formerly a professor of paediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) from 1975-2018.
Dr Baker made groundbreaking recognition of neonatal and young infant group B streptococcal disease and its correlation of lack of maternal antibodies to the GBS capsular polysaccharide during her infectious diseases fellowship training at BCM and Harvard Medical School. She subsequently expanded knowledge of changing epidemiology of neonatal sepsis, and GBS pathogenesis and prevention strategies, and specifically the development of a maternal GBS vaccine. Her advocacy work first with the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1992 and then with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1996 led to the U.S. guidelines for routine culture screening of pregnant women for GBS colonization and intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis, a policy that has implemented in several European countries and resulted in a more than 85% reduction GBS disease in the U.S. A pioneer in advocating for maternal immunization, the recommendation for routine pertussis booster immunization during every pregnancy was made during her time as Chair of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices to the CDC, 2009-2012.
She is the author or co-author of more than 450 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, reviews and editorials. A committed clinician and teacher, she has received several awards and mentored dozens of pediatric infectious diseases trainees. A few of her many awards include the Mentor and Alexander Fleming Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Distinguished Physician and Distinguished Research Awards from the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the Albert Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Track 5 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Stefano Malvolti is Managing Director and Co-Founder of MMGH Consulting, an advisory agency assisting public and non-profit clients in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs and products targeting vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases. The agency, founded in 2017, has advised key immunization actors (WHO, UNICEF, CEPI, Gavi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Asian Development Bank, etc.) on more than 70 projects across different countries and regions. Stefano is also a Member of the Board of Directors of Fondazione Achile Sclavo, an NGO focused on facilitating vaccine development for neglected diseases.
In 2016, he served as CEO at Univac, an early-stage Biotech company developing a vaccine platform for viral diseases. Previously he was the Director of Vaccine Implementation at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance where he oversaw more than 150 country introductions across 11 vaccine programs. He also held positions at Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, PATH, Novartis Pharma, and Baxter Healthcare in public policy, marketing, strategy, supply chain, and finance.
Stefano holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and a Master of Business Economics from Bocconi University in Milan. In the past years, he has published several articles on vaccines and immunization, with a particular focus on vaccines’ value proposition and business cases, demand forecasting, and access to vaccines.
Track 7 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Farah is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she has been working on studies on the long-term impact of iGBS in children in low and middle-income countries. She is also a Senior Evidence Manager at the UK National Screening Committee, hosted by Public Health England, where she manages the UK policy on antenatal GBS screening. As part of this, she is working on how to address the evidence gaps related to GBS, including its long-term impact.
Track 1 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
As a paediatrician, with a special interest in infectious disease epidemiology and public health, Dr Bassat has attempted to combine his clinical work with biomedical research in those diseases that most affect the poor and vulnerable. His main area of interest has been the prevention and treatment of malaria in childhood, with a particular focus on understanding the clinical overlap of malaria and other common pediatric conditions. His research has also covered the new paradigm of malaria eradication, with a particular interest in evaluating the role of drugs in elimination strategies.
He has also conducted work on the description of the epidemiology and etiology of respiratory infections (viral and bacterial), diarrheal diseases, and neonatal infections (with a particular interest in the role of Group B streptococcus) in places such as Mozambique, Morocco, or Bhutan.
Currently, his main interests are related to the validation and implementation of Minimally Invasive Autopsy (MIA) tools for the post-mortem investigation of Causes of death in the developing world. He is also very interested in the validation and evaluation of technological devices for Global health purposes, and in particular in the evaluation of a new non-invasive approach for the diagnosis of meningitis.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Bassat has been involved in different studies and trials to better understand the use of preventive and therapeutic strategies for COVID-19, as well as the particularities of SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease in children. He has advised the Spanish Government on topics related to Pediatric COVID-19.
Track 1 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Merel van Kassel obtained her medical degree in 2016 and worked as a resident at the Paediatric Department at a large hospital in Amsterdam. During her work as a clinical resident, she became passionate about research which led her to pursue a position as a PhD candidate at the Neurology department of Amsterdam UMC. During her PhD trajectory, she set up the “NOGBS” study. This nationwide prospective cohort study investigates clinical characteristics of group B streptococcal disease in young infants, bacterial virulence of group B streptococcus, and protective maternal serology. In March 2021 she successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Invasive group B streptococcal disease in the Netherlands”. Since June 2021 she started her Anesthesiology residency at the Amsterdam UMC.
Track 3 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Professor Zadoks is a veterinarian and molecular epidemiologist who has worked on group B Streptococcus across host species and continents for more than a decade. The scientific name of GBS is Streptococcus agalactiae, which refers to its impact on dairy cattle, where it causes mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland) and reduced milk production (agalactia). Coming from a background in dairy herd health and bovine mastitis, Prof. Zadoks has since been involved in comparative molecular studies of GBS in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia and across host species, including people, cattle, fishes, frogs, sea mammals, and camels.
Her work on GBS ranges from molecular and genomic epidemiology to challenge studies and the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and control recommendations for different host species. With international collaborators and postgraduate students, she has documented the emergence and re-emergence of GBS in cattle, fishes, and camels. Her work has shown that there are no strict host-species barriers separating human and animal-derived GBS and that we can only understand the GBS pangenome and evolution if we consider both human and animal isolates in seroepidemiological and genomic surveillance.
Her work has been funded by academic, government, and industry bodies in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Australia, and she is a collaborator on the JUNO project. She takes an interdisciplinary approach, working with medical, genomic, aquaculture and social science experts, among others; has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers; and is a regular international speaker on GBS, the molecular epidemiology of infectious disease and One Health. With colleagues from Singapore, she was one of the drivers behind the recently published FAO Risk Profile on GBS ST283 in freshwater fish, which is an emerging pathogen of humans transmitted via the foodborne route that threatens food security and public health alike.
Track 5 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Ajoke Sobanjo-ter Meulen, MD, Dr. med., MSc, is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she serves as the Global Maternal Immunization Lead. In this role, she leads the foundation’s maternal immunization strategy and its implementation via industry, academia, and global health partners. Previously, Ajoke led the maternal immunization clinical development program for Group B streptococcus vaccine at Novartis Vaccines, including the successful IND filing for the first clinical trials in pregnant women in the United States. Further, Ajoke served as Associate Director of Vaccine Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories where she led the global phase 3 clinical development program of S. aureus vaccine. Before joining the industry, she was the Program Coordinator for Child Health and Neglected Diseases at the bilateral agency of the German government (GIZ). Ajoke trained in pediatric and adolescent medicine at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and in pediatric infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Medical School, New York. She holds an M.D. degree from the Free University of Berlin, a Dr. med. degree from the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Hamburg, Germany; and received an M.Sc. degree in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in England.
Track 8 – Plenary SpeakerRead Bio
Dr. Priscilla De Gregorio obtained a Biotechnology degree in 2009 at the National University of Tucuman, Argentina. She got the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the same University in 2015, and a postdoctoral degree in 2017, both supported by scholarships of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) from Argentina. In 2017, she got a CONICET position as a scientist at Reference Center for Lactobacilli (CERELA), and her research is focused on: “Design of probiotic products containing beneficial vaginal lactobacilli for the prevention of female urogenital infections”
During her Ph.D. and at present she was working in the preventive and/or therapeutic effect of vaginal lactobacilli against urogenital pathogens (between them Streptococcus agalactiae) both in in vitro and in vivo experimental models. She has gained experience in different areas as microbiology, immunology, and nanotechnology. She carried out assays using eukaryotic cell and murine experimental models trying to understand mechanistic studies of lactobacilli and/or their metabolites at the urogenital tract. She has actively participated in two clinical studies in healthy women where Lactobacillus effect was evaluated. She is co-authoring 15 publications in international journals (9 as the first author), 1 book chapter, and 1 patent, being most of them related to vaginal probiotics. She has participated in different international and national scientific meetings, in granted research projects, and in the license of probiotic vaginal Lactobacillus strains to an Argentina Company. She has trained with different research groups in Germany, Brazil, and Italy. She is co-mentoring a Ph.D. thesis and a master’s degree, and she is training permanently undergraduate students, all of them in subjects related to probiotic characterization.
Track 3 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Dr Natália Costa is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She received her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from UFRJ in 2009. Her master’s degree was obtained in Human Medical Microbiology from the State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012 and her doctoral degree was earned in Microbiology from UFRJ in 2016. She has been working on molecular epidemiology of streptococcal species for more than ten years and currently, her studies are focused on Group B Streptococcus colonizing pregnant women in Brazil.
Track 1 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Erzsébet Horváth-Puhó is an associate professor and biostatistician at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University, Denmark. Dr. Horváth-Puhó has a master’s degree in mathematics, a PhD diploma in Health Sciences, and extensive experience with epidemiological study designs, biostatistical methods, and large databases. She is leading a team of biostatisticians at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and collaborates closely with international research institutes (e.g. Stanford University, Boston University, London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine, and Amsterdam UMC). Erzsébet is working on research projects on the long-term impact of group B streptococcal disease on the life of children and their families based on Danish registry data. Dr. Horváth-Puhó is the author or co-author of more than 220 clinical epidemiological research projects published in acknowledged international journals with peer-review.
Track 5 – PANEL MCRead Bio
Elizabeth Mason is a specialist in Public Health – Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and has more than 40 years of experience in Clinical care; Policy and Strategy development; Planning, management, implementation and monitoring of programmes at all levels of the health service, including 24 years living and working in Zimbabwe and the African region. She has a special interest in immunization and quality of care. She was Director of the WHO’s Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, Geneva, for 10 years. She was co-chair of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent.
She serves on a number of Technical Advisory Groups, Review Panels and Research Groups at the Global and Regional levels. She qualified in Medicine from the University of Leeds, holds a postgraduate qualification in Child Health, an MPH from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, UK, an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Global Health, UCL, UK.
Track 8 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Laura Cook grew up in Rochester, MN, and earned her B.A. degree in English Literature and B.S. degree in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota in 2005. As an undergraduate, she worked in the laboratory of Dr Patrick Schlievert for 3 years studying staphylococcal superantigen toxins. She stayed at the University of Minnesota to obtain her PhD in Microbiology studying enterococcal conjugation and biofilm formation in the lab of Dr Gary Dunny in 2006. Laura began her postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the lab of Dr Michael Federle in 2012. While there, she began her work with streptococci, examining cell-cell communication between streptococcal species and streptococcal-host interactions. In 2018, Dr Cook moved to Binghamton University to begin a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is also a member of the Binghamton Biofilm Research Center. Her lab currently focuses on two species of pathogenic bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus agalactiae, and their interactions with host mucosal surfaces and the resident microbiota.
Track 1 – Plenary SpeakerRead Bio
Hannah Blencowe is a clinician and perinatal epidemiologist, and currently an assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), with over fifteen years of experience in global health. Her research is focused on maternal, perinatal, and child. Hannah’s specific skills are regarding improving national and global measurement and estimation of perinatal outcomes. She was a leading author on Lancet papers regarding national and global rates of preterm birth (2012), stillbirths (2011 and 2016), and low birth weight (2019). She has played a central role in the Lancet Every Newborn series, Every Newborn Action Plan (2014), and Lancet Ending Preventable Stillbirths series (2016). She has also coordinated novel estimates on congenital conditions and disability after neonatal complications. In addition to improving data, she works on how data can be used in policy and programs towards ending preventable deaths, including stillbirths. She contributes to ongoing UN-led work to improve perinatal data through providing country technical support and supporting further research as part of the UN-IGME Core Stillbirth Estimation Group, the Every Newborn Action Plan metrics group, and the Vulnerable Newborns working group. She is co-chair of the Global Stillbirth Advocacy Working Group.
M.B.B.C.H. (Wits), FCPaeds(SA), – Track 4 – Parallel SpeakerRead Bio
Shabir Madhi is the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He also holds the position of Director of the South African Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit (VIDA) and is co-Director of the African Leadership Initiative for Vaccinology Expertise (ALIVE). He has in the past led studies on pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and rotavirus vaccine in Africa, which informed WHO recommendations on the use of these vaccines in low and middle-income settings. He has led studies on the clinical development of vaccines for pregnant women aimed at the protection of mother-infant dyads. Most recently he led the first two COVID-19 vaccine studies being undertaken in Africa and has been involved in multiple epidemiological studies on Covid-19 in South Africa. He has co-authored more than 480 scientific manuscripts since 1997, mainly on vaccine-preventable diseases.