Scientific advisory panel members

The MRF Scientific Advisory Panel

The work of the Scientific Advisory Panel is integral to MRF’s success. It ensures that the Charity only funds research of high scientific merit, which is relevant to our research strategy, original and likely to succeed.

The Panel:

  • Assesses every research funding application (around 50 preliminary proposals and 20 full applications each year)
  • Assesses annual progress reports for existing research grants
  • Gives advice on our research strategy 
Panel members are international scientists working at the top of their respective fields, conducting world-wide research and generously giving their time and expertise for free. They bring great insight and dedication to the funding process. 

We are enormously grateful for their commitment, which can only serve to further research into meningitis and septicaemia.

Professor Ray Borrow PhD MRCPath (Chair) Head of Vaccine Evaluation Department, Health Protection Agency, Manchester

Prof Ray Borrow is Head of the Vaccine Evaluation Unit at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) North West, Manchester, UK, where he is responsible for the evaluation of serological responses to various bacterial and viral vaccines with a special interest in meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines. He is also the Deputy Head of the HPA Meningococcal Reference Unit for England & Wales. 

Ray gained his PhD in 1994, his MRCPath in 2003, became an Honorary Professor of Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the University of Manchester in 2009 and Visiting Professor of the Manchester Metropolitan University in 2011. His scientific findings resulted in over 190 peer reviewed published papers. He serves as a member of the DoH Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and frequently advises WHO and companies on both meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines.

Professor Ian Feavers BSc PhD (Vice-chair)
Head of the Division of Bacteriology, NIBSC

Ian Feavers  is Head of the Division of Bacteriology at the NIBSC, UK. He studied for his PhD at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, eventually moving to NIBSC after periods of postdoctoral research at the University of Sheffield and the Friedrich Miescher Institut in Basel. During the late 1990s, when new conjugate vaccines were being introduced, he headed the laboratory responsible for the control and standardisation of meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccines. Ian continues to oversee an active research programme on the molecular genetics and immunology of meningococcal and pneumococcal antigens. Because of his broad experience of bacterial vaccines and molecular biology, he has been closely involved with a number of meningococcal vaccine developments. He regularly contributes to WHO and EU guidelines, serves as one of NIBSC’s representatives on the Vaccine Working Party of the EMA, and is a member of the JCVI subgroup on meningococcal vaccines. Ian teaches on a number of vaccine related courses in the University of London and is a Visiting Professor at Imperial College.

Dr Claire Cameron FFPH, Strategic Lead for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at Health Protection Scotland

Dr Claire Cameron is a Strategic Lead for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at Health Protection Scotland (HPS), with overall responsibility for areas including meningococcal, pneumococcal, and Haemophilus influenzae disease.

Her work covers national surveillance, operational support, research and development, education and training and contributing to policy formation, including representing HPS at the UK Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation.

She co-chairs the Scottish Immunisation Programme.

Claire is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and a graduate of St Andrews and Cambridge Universities, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Dr Rachel Exley, BSc. PhD
Research Scientist, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford

Rachel Exley is a research scientist based at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. After obtaining a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Leeds, she completed a PhD in microbial genetics from the Université Paris XI, France on bacterial physiology. She then moved to Imperial College London to work on an MRF funded project to understand the genetic basis of meningococcal carriage, and the development of novel vaccines. After this, she relocated to the University of Oxford. She has spent more than ten years working to understand the biology of meningococcal and gonococcal infection.

Rachle's major research interests are the development and evaluation of novel vaccine antigens, understanding complement resistance of meningococci, and structure:function studies of Type four pili which enable the bacterium to adhere to human cells. Additionally, Rachel helps to organise and teach the Microbiology Course for medical students at the University of Oxford and is a tutor for students at Somerville College.

Professor Adam Finn MA PhD FRCP FRCPCH
Professor of Paediatrics, Head, Unit of Child Health
Dept Clinical Sciences at South Bristol, University of Bristol

Adam Finn is Head of the Academic Unit of Child Health at Bristol Medical School, School of Clinical Sciences and an honorary consultant in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. He is director of the South West Medicines for Children Research Network and heads the Bristol Children's Vaccine Centre. He trained in Infectious Diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and in Immunology at the Institute of Child Health in London where he obtained his PhD.

He worked in Sheffield between 1992 and 2001 where he was involved in several trials of meningococcal group C and other vaccines. His current main research interest is the mucosal immune response to respiratory bacteria including pneumococcus and meningococcus.

Professor Paul Heath MB BS FRACP FRCPCH
Professor/Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at St George’s, University of London and Vaccine Institute in London.

Paul Heath is a Professor / Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at St George’s, University of London and Vaccine Institute in London. His training in paediatrics and infectious diseases was at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford and St George’s Hospital, London. His particular research interests are in the epidemiology of vaccine preventable diseases, in clinical vaccine trials, particularly in at-risk groups, and in perinatal infections. He coordinates a national neonatal infection surveillance network (neonIN) and recently, a national study on neonatal meningitis. He sits on national committees concerned with meningitis, Group B streptococcus prevention, Pneumococcal and Hib infections, neonatal infections and on immunisation policies in children. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, a member of the research committee of the European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases and a member of the steering committee of the international Brighton Collaboration on vaccine safety.

Professor Robert Heyderman PhD FRCP DTM&H
Professor of Infectious Diseases, UCL

Rob Heyderman is a clinician scientist whose work bridges clinical practice and fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of infectious disease. He has recently moved to UCL after directing the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Programme (MLW) for 8 years. MLW has an internationally leading translational research portfolio that links an excellent laboratory base to strong hospital and community-based research teams. 

Led by Malawian & International Scientists, MLW is focused on conducting cutting-edge research in a robust research training environment, the development of globally competitive research leaders and the translation scientific advances into human health improvements. His research focuses on the endothelial biology & coagulopathy of severe infection; the microbial and immunological basis of severe infection by mucosal pathogens and their prevention through vaccination; regulation of host inflammation; and the diagnosis and management of meningitis and sepsis.

Professor Beate Kampmann Staats Exam MD FRCPCH DTM&H PhD Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London

Professor Beate Kampmann holds a Chair in Paediatric Infection & Immunity at Imperial College, London and was appointed as the Scientific Director (Theme Leader) for Vaccinology research at the MRC Unit-The Gambia in July 2010. She directs a comprehensive childhood infection research program both in the UK and sub-saharan Africa and holds an MRC Program Grant. In 2009 she was awarded an NIHR Senior Research Training Fellowship (the only awardee in that category in 2009) and has subsequently set up a research study and network for childhood tuberculosis involving 9 NHS Trusts in the UK. Recently, she has initiated a novel research program for maternal immunization at Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust, funded by Imperial BRC.

Professor Kampmann has extensive practical and research experience in childhood infection for over 15 years and brings an established funding track record as PI and co-applicant from major international funders for the conduct of laboratory-based and programmatic research in TB and Vaccinology in both resource-poor and resource rich settings. At the MRC Unit in The Gambia, she oversees all research activity in infant immunology, tuberculosis and molecular diagnostics, which ranges from basic research into innate and acquired immune responses to infection and vaccination in healthy and sick infants to clinical trials of novel vaccines and adjuvants.

She is passionate about the supervision and mentorship of her large group of PhD students in both UK and Africa with funding received from the Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIH, EDCTP, Thrasher Foundation and other sources. She remains clinically active as part of the paediatric infectious disease team at Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust and divides her time between Imperial College and West Africa, having set up an “Open Lab” approach where science and personnel are closely aligned between both locations.

Dr Shamez Ladhani PhD MRCPCH(UK) MSc(distinction) MBBS(hons) BSc(hons) Paediatric Infectious Diseases Consultant, St. George’s Hospital, Consultant Epidemiologist, Public Health England

Shamez Ladhani is a paediatric infectious diseases consultant at St. George’s Hospital, senior lecturer at St. George’s University of London and consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England. He is the clinical lead for a number of national vaccine preventable infections, including Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis, which are all major causes of childhood bacterial meningitis.

He completed his medical training at Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospitals, London, and then worked in a children’s hospital in rural Kenya. Upon returning to London, he obtained his PhD in genetic epidemiology and vaccine failure in children and completed his specialist paediatric infectious diseases training at St. George’s and Great Ormond Street Hospitals, London.

He is currently responsible for the national evaluation of the meningococcal group B vaccine, Bexsero®, in the national infant immunisation programme and the meningococcal ACWY conjugate vaccination programme for teenagers. His main research interests include vaccine-preventable infectious diseases and he has published extensively in this fields.

Dr Caroline Trotter BA MSc PhD
Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge.

Caroline Trotter is a Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist, with an MSc and PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and has had previous posts at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on assessing the population impact of vaccination against meningococcal and pneumococcal disease, using a range of research methods including mathematical modelling, costeffectiveness studies, analyses of large databases and seroprevalence studies. She is currently working on the MenAfriCar project.

Professor Michael Levin PhD FRCPCH FMedSci
Professor of Paediatrics and International Child Health at Imperial College London

Michael Levin is Professor of Paediatrics and International Child Health at Imperial College London. He trained in medicine in South Africa and in paediatrics in the UK before specialising in infectious diseases. His research has focused on life threatening infections of childhood. He is the co-ordinator of a European Commission FP7 award studying the genetic basis of meningococcal and other life threatening bacterial infections of childhood, working with a consortium of colleagues from Europe, Africa and Singapore.

Professor James Stuart MA, MB, FFPH
Honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the University of Bristol.

After qualifying in medicine in 1974, James Stuart worked for ten years as a clinical doctor in the UK and rural South Africa before specialising in public health and epidemiology of infectious diseases, particularly meningococcal disease. He has been involved in the investigation and control of outbreaks of meningococcal disease in the UK and international level, and has published extensively on the epidemiology of meningococcal disease and carriage.

In recent years he has been involved in a major research project into meningococcal carriage during the introduction of MenAfriVac, a conjugate serogroup A vaccine rolled out across the meningitis belt of Africa. He has assisted the WHO to revise outbreak response guidelines in the African meningitis belt.