I studied Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, before completing an MSc in Genetics and DPhil in Immunology at the University of Oxford, UK. This was followed by Post-doc positions at Oxford, studying cellular immunity to HIV, CD8+ T cell activation mechanisms, and currently, vaccine development.
Over the last few years my research has focused on developing a new vaccine encapsulation technology, with the aim of reducing the number of immunisations required for full protection against a disease. Almost all current vaccines are administered in two or three doses at specific time intervals. Inadequate immunisation coverage remains a major hurdle in the successful implementation of immunisation schedules worldwide, due to missed or mistimed visits. Our goal is to avoid the need for booster vaccinations by providing the booster dose, encapsulated into microcapsules for a later in vivo release, together with the priming vaccine. This would reduce multiple dose immunisation regimens, with the capsule serving either to generate long lasting persistence of the vaccine in the body (continuous release), or by releasing discrete burst(s) of the booster vaccine (pulsatile release). Through a close collaboration with the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford, we are developing vaccine encapsulation using microfluidics and electro-spraying methods. These technologies use different approaches to precisely tune particle synthesis parameters such as size and antigen loading, and minimise the production of heterogeneous emulsions, which will facilitate the in vivo assessment of the immunogenicity and efficacy of encapsulated formulations.
In parallel, I manage the Jenner Institute Adjuvant Facility and collaborate on vaccine adjuvant research and development with external partners. I am on the Management Committee of an EU COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action Programme ENOVA (European Network of Vaccine Adjuvants) and Working Group leader for Prophylactic Vaccine Adjuvants www.enova-adjuvant.eu
My long-term interest are mechanisms of immune activation, in particular the interplay between the innate and the adaptive immunity. I have recently started looking at different aspects of this interaction in the context of enhancing the protective efficacy of a viral vectored vaccine against malaria, and am looking to broaden my observations to vaccines against other complex intracellular pathogens.
I am also the Jenner Institute lead for Public Engagement with Research (twitter.com/JennerInstitute, facebook.com/jennerinstitute).