Professor Human models for vaccine development
Meta Roestenberg is professor in vaccinology, and clinical head of the Controlled Human Infection Center. She leads a translational research group focused on the development of vaccines for poverty-related infectious diseases. In her (out)patient care she focusses on the daily management of the vaccination department LUMC and she sees patients with (tropical) infectious diseases, parasitic infections or complex vaccination requests. She is chair of the Dutch Society for Parasitology, has a visiting appointment at the Radboud University Medical Center and is member of the WHO advisory commitee for malaria vaccines. In the future, she will continue to focus on clinical translational vaccine research to fight infectious diseases that cause significant morbidity and mortality among the poorest people in the world.
Human models for vaccine development
Because of the increasing costs and complexity of vaccine design, the vaccine development pipeline is in need for a different, sustainable and cost-effective development model. Experimental medicine approaches such as the controlled infection of human volunteers can accelerate the development of novel vaccines through early proof-of-concept efficacy testing as well as by increasing the understanding of host-pathogen interaction in the human setting. As such, the development of human infection models has the potential to fill the gap between fundamental and preclinical vaccine research and generate knowledge that will foster the design and development of novel vaccines. More importantly, infection models may prove to be a method to reduce research and development costs and ensure that health care can be made accessible and affordable for populations worldwide, now and in years to come, including those affected by poverty. Continuing investment and scientific development of these models will increase insight in how and to what extent human models predict vaccine efficacy in downstream field trials, improve the yield of (immunological) correlates of protection and improve the ethical justification of added social value at the expense of exposing healthy volunteers to a risk. Because human models for malaria vaccine development are most advanced and have led to the development of attenuated parasite vaccination, ongoing investment into these vaccines is needed to ultimately ensure that the knowledge gained materializes into a vaccine amenable for global administration. As the field of malaria vaccines has taught us, transfer of human models to endemic areas can be challenging but is essential to unleash their full potential in the vaccine pipeline.
Meta Roestenberg studied Medicine at the University of Maastricht, where she obtained her medical degree cum laude in 2004. During her medical training she had the opportunity to follow internships in Africa and South-East Asia, where she became fascinated by infectious diseases. She returned to India for additional training several months after her graduation and then decided to dedicate her professional career to poverty related infectious diseases. She completed her PhD cum laude in 2013 at the department of Medical Microbiology of the Radboud University Medical Center, where she developed a human model for malaria immunity. She was trained in internal medicine at the Radboud University Medical Center and the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital, both in Nijmegen.
In 2014 she registered as Infectious Diseases specialist at the Leiden University Medical Center and was awarded a VENI grant from the Dutch Society for Scientific Research and a Gisela Thier fellowship to start her own research group. She is internationally known for her research in poverty related infectious diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis and hookworm, for which she was awarded the Boehringer Ingelheim Parasitology Award (2018), de Bailey K. Ashford medal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2020) and the Heineken Young Investigator Award (2020). In 2021 she was appointed full professor (chair: human models for vaccine development).