Scientific Advisory Panel

The work of the Scientific Advisory Panel is integral to our 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
  • 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 Caroline Trotter

Professor Caroline Trotter (Chair)

Infectious disease epidemiologist, University of Cambridge

Professor Caroline Trotter is an infectious disease epidemiologist with a particular interest in vaccine evaluation. She is based at the University of Cambridge and has an honorary position with UK Health Security Agency (UK HSA). Most of her research is on bacterial meningitis, and in particular meningococcal disease.

She uses a variety of methods, including observational studies, mathematical modelling and cost-effectiveness analyses and enjoys addressing questions of direct relevance to vaccine and public health policy. Caroline is also the Director of the Cambridge-Africa Programme, a University wide initiative to connect researchers in Cambridge and Africa.

Dr Anne Von Gottberg

Dr Anne Von Gottberg (Vice-chair)

Laboratory lead at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa and Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Anne von Gottberg is currently the laboratory lead at the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Associate Professor within the School of Pathology, Faculty of the Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; and Honorary Professor, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.

She leads a laboratory team responsible for reference diagnostics for respiratory and meningitis pathogens nationally and regionally. The laboratory is the regional reference laboratory for the World Health Organization (WHO) Vaccine-preventable Invasive Bacterial Diseases (VP-IBD) Coordinated Global Surveillance Network for the southern African region; a National Influenza Centre (NIC); and a global WHO RSV and regional SARS-CoV-2 reference laboratory.

She is currently a member of several committees and technical advisory groups for AFRO, Africa CDC and WHO. Her main interests include surveillance for meningitis and respiratory pathogens, assessing vaccine effectiveness where relevant. She has authored or co-authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, she supervises a number of Masters and PhD students. Dr von Gottberg obtained her MBBCh and PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand, and trained for her specialisation in clinical microbiology (FC Path[SA] MICRO) at the National Health Laboratory Service (former South African Institute for Medical Research) and at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Dr Suzanne Anderson

Dr Suzanne Anderson

Community child health paediatrician, University College London

Suzanne is a community child health paediatrician with a long-standing interest in tropical paediatrics, particularly in the areas of tuberculosis and child public health in Africa. She has combined this with multi-disciplinary laboratory and clinical research.

From 2007 to 2016 she worked in sub-Saharan Africa, latterly running the clinical services department at the MRC Unit The Gambia for five years. Since returning to the UK she works as a consultant paediatrician with Evelina London Children’s Community Services and with the UCL MRC Clinical Trials Unit on a multi-centre treatment and outcome trial of TB meningitis.

Merijn Bijlsma

Dr Merijn Bijlsma

Paediatrician and researcher at Amsterdam University Medical Centres

Merijn Bijlsma is a paediatrician and researcher. His training in paediatrics and epidemiology was at Amsterdam UMC in the Netherlands. After completing a PhD focused on the epidemiology of bacterial meningitis at the University of Amsterdam, he continued his research with a focus of long-term outcome after meningitis and neonatal Group B streptococcal disease.

He combines national surveillance data, with large clinical cohorts and bacterial genetic sequencing, with the aim of improving diagnostics and prevention. Merijn is a member of the Dutch guideline committee and has co-authored the latest national guidelines on bacterial meningitis diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Dominique Caugant

Professor Dominique Caugant

Director of Research at the Division for Infection Control, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Meningococci, Oslo, Norway.

Prof Dominique Caugant is Director of Research at the Division for Infection Control, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Head of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Meningococci, Oslo, Norway.

She is responsible for the National Reference Laboratories in Norway for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis.

She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Oslo since 1999, first at the Faculty of Dentistry (until 2009), presently at the Section for International Health, Faculty of Medicine.

Her main fields of research are population genetics and molecular epidemiology of pathogenic bacteria, developing molecular tools for the study of infectious disease transmission, the development of antibiotic resistance and the evolution of pathogens. She is also involved in vaccine research, especially against meningococcal disease, including development of outer membrane vesicle vaccines, testing potential coverage of new vaccines and evaluation of impact of vaccination. She is involved in several international research projects, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Hannah Christensen

Dr Hannah Christensen

Senior Lecturer in infectious disease mathematical modelling at the University of Bristol

Hannah is a Senior Lecturer in infectious disease mathematical modelling at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research focuses on using models to predict the potential impact of interventions (particularly vaccination) on infectious diseases. Hannah was responsible for developing models of meningococcal disease and vaccination used by policy makers in the UK and several countries in Europe to inform their decisions about the use of Bexsero and MenACWY vaccines against meningococcal disease. Her current research focuses on better understanding the drivers of vaccine uptake and how best to appropriately value the benefits of vaccines.

Nora Groce

Professor Nora Groce

Director of the UCL International Disability Research Centre at University College London.

Professor Nora Ellen Groce, an anthropologist, is Director of the UCL International Disability Research Centre at University College London. Known for her work in global health and international development with a focus on social justice, much of her work has concentrated on vulnerable populations and particularly on people with disabilities, Groce has done applied research on poverty, domestic violence, the disabling consequences of infectious diseases and access to health care for poor and marginalized populations.

Now holding the Cheshire Chair at University College London she was previously on the faculties of Harvard University (1984-1990) and Yale (1990-2008), where she helped establish and run the Global Health Programme before coming to UCL in 2008. Widely published, Groce also serves on a number of national, international and United Nations committees and advisory boards.

Brenda Kwambana

Dr Brenda Anna Kwambana-Adams

Brenda Anna Kwambana-Adams is a Wellcome International Intermediate Fellow and Senior Lecturer (Academic Career Track) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Research Programme.

Brenda is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow within the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London. Brenda’s research interests are to characterise the mechanisms that modulate transmission of respiratory pathogens using cutting-edge “omics”, with the aim to guide the development of more effective control strategies. As part of her Wellcome Fellowship, Brenda is using an innovative vaccine-probe study to investigate the role of under-fives in within-household transmission of the pneumococcus to infants.

In the process of doing this, Brenda is also developing tools for early, rapid, and accurate diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) that could improve case ascertainment in resource limited settings. Brenda also works with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Regional Reference Laboratories supporting surveillance of acute bacterial meningitis across Africa. Brenda contributed to the development of the current WHO guidelines on controlling pneumococcal outbreaks in the African “meningitis belt” and the WHO Defeating Meningitis 2030 Global Roadmap. Brenda has won numerous awards including the first prestigious MRC-LSHTM West Africa Global Health Research Fellowship.

Dr Jay Lucidarme BSc. MSc. PhD

Senior Scientist, Meningococcal Reference Unit, Public Health England, Manchester UK

Jay Lucidarme is a Senior Scientist based at the Public Health England Meningococcal Reference Unit in Manchester. He obtained his degree in Microbiology at the University of Sheffield before going on to complete a Masters in Medical and Molecular Microbiology at the University of Manchester. 

He joined the Public Health England Vaccine Evaluation Unit in 2007 where he undertook a PhD in Genomic Epidemiology assessing the potential coverage of the meningococcal B vaccine, Bexsero, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

He has since contributed to various projects including the Meningitis Research Foundation Meningococcus Genome Library, and investigations into the vaccine candidacy of meningococcal haemoglobin receptors, the population biology of serogroup W meningococci, and the in vivo microevolution of meningococci during progression from being a harmless commensal to an invasive pathogen. 

He currently contributes to the enhanced surveillance of invasive meningococcal disease in England, Wales and Northern Ireland following the introduction of meningococcal B and meningococcal ACWY vaccines into the routine vaccine schedule.

We fund research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and sepsis
Key data and meningitis estimates
A global vision for meningitis by 2030 and an action plan to get there.
£160/€190/$214 decodes the genetic information in a sample of meningococcal bacteria. This information has helped us track new forms of meningitis and campaign to introduce new vaccines to protect people.
Liz Rodgers
Research, Evidence and Policy

If you like to read the terms of reference for our Scientific Advisory Panel or would like any more information about our research programme, do get in touch

Tel: 0333 405 6258