Booking open for MRF conference

18 Aug 2021
Booking open for MRF conference

Meningitis Research Foundation Conference
1st - 3rd November 2021

Registration is now open.

The thirteenth Meningitis Research Foundation Conference will bring together world-leading experts discussing latest advances and today's challenges for meningitis and septicaemia, including burden and impact of diseases, the development of new vaccines and global impact of existing programmes and campaigns, the development of new diagnostic tests, advances and controversies in treatment, scientific advances to enable future action against these infections, aftercare and advocacy. The conference programme is aligned to the new WHO Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030.

Conference certified for 11 CPD credits

We are very pleased to announce that the Royal College of Physicians have certified the conference for 11 category 1 (external) CPD credits.


MRF conference 2021 is supported by GSK Sanofi logo

MRF conference 2021: GSK are supporting via a grant. Sanofi are conference sponsors

We are very pleased to be holding this year’s conference in association with ISSAD.


Day 1: Monday 1st November

Welcome – Vinny Smith, CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) and Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO)

Impact of meningitis, patient experience and support and aftercare

Patient experience of meningitis and septicaemia in high and low to middle income regions – Jo Kirwin, UK member of MRF AND Adelaide Bortier, Ghana

Long-term impact of meningitis– what is known now and the research challenge for the Defeating Meningitis by 2030 Roadmap – Dr Nicoline Schiess, World Health Organization (WHO)

What follow up care after meningitis is expected, provided, and needed in high and low to middle income settings? – Professor Charles Newton, KEMRI Wellcome Trust


WHO Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030

Implementing the Global Roadmap – how are we going to do it (including the research priorities within the global roadmap: what this means for the research community) – Dr Marie-Pierre Preziosi, WHO

Ending Cryptococcal Meningitis Deaths by 2030 – Strategic Framework – Professor Nelesh Govender, National Institute of Communicable Diseases

Defeating Paediatric Tuberculous Meningitis: Applying the WHO “Defeating Meningitis by 2030: Global Roadmap” – Dr Robin Basu Roy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


Lessons and impact for meningitis in the COVID-19 era

Will meningitis rebound as COVID restrictions end? What needs to happen next?

Moderator: Professor Adam Finn, University of Bristol

Panellists from around the world will take part in a discussion contrasting models predicting a prolonged herd protection effect from social distancing vs the immunity gap due to reduced immunisation and reduced natural acquisition/ boosting of immunity.

  • Professor Marco Safadi, Santa Casa de São Paulo School of Medical Sciences, Brazil – Findings from the IRIS initiative, with a focus on Brazil, and commenting on the situation in Latin America.

  • Professor Shabir Madhi, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg – African perspective on COVID impact

  • Dr Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge – Models of COVID impact on meningitis infections:

    • The relative predicted effect of social distancing on carriage vs lower vaccine coverage on IMD and IPD in the UK, and

    • The potential impact of MenAfriVac disruption on meningococcal A infection

  • Professor Muhamed-Kheir Taha, Institut Pasteur, Paris– The immunity gap in childhood due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Audience voting at the beginning and end on whether meningitis infections will rebound as Covid restrictions end

Using COVID vaccine technology to make faster, cheaper meningitis vaccines, and regulatory lessons from COVID- Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, University of Oxford

DAY 2: Tuesday 2nd November

Improving data for meningitis: recognition, diagnosis and surveillance - closing the ascertainment gap between people affected and laboratory surveillance

Advocacy and awareness raising activity and the WHO Defeating Meningitis by 2030 Roadmap– Rob Dawson, Meningitis Research Foundation

Challenges of improving laboratory confirmation of bacterial meningitis by increasing proportion of patients who have lumbar puncture and viable samples reaching laboratories –TBC

Developing and deploying RDTs for the main meningitis pathogens: where we are now and what’s happening next - Dr Xin Wang, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Distinguishing bacterial infections using a host signature: PERFORM- DIAMONDS studies – Dr Jethro Herberg, Imperial College London

Discriminatory host transcripts in the blood of adults with bacterial meningitis: TRIM study – Dr Mike Griffiths, University of Liverpool


Genomics: the frontier of learning

Pneumococcal genomics, vaccines and AMR – Dr William Hanage, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Hypervirulence and Group B Streptococcal Infection – Dr Odile Harrison, University of Oxford

How this will be made accessible through the Global Meningitis Genome Partnership – Professor Robert Heyderman, University College London




DAY 3: Wednesday 3rd November

Latest results on impact of Bexsero on invasive IMD and gonorrhoea in S Australian routine programme and update on Australian studies of impact of Bexsero on carriage of Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in teenagers – Professor Helen Marshall, University of Adelaide

Prevention and epidemic control

Combined with the above session

PANEL DISCUSSION: Potential for adolescent MenB immunisation programmes to control meningococcal B infection and gonorrhoea.

Moderator: Associate Professor Matthew Snape, University of Oxford

  • Professor Federico Martinón Torres, Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago de Compostela, Spain -Case for teenage MenB prevention

  • TBC– Case for gonococcal prevention

  • Dr Sami Gottlieb, WHO – WHO perspective

  • Dr Hannah Christensen, University of Bristol – Health economics perspective

  • Professor Helen Marshall, University of Adelaide– Follow up/Q&A from preceding talk

Including live discussion, audience Q&A

Audience voting at the beginning and the end on ‘Should we introduce Bexsero into teenage immunisation programmes now?’

Potential use of MenABCWY vaccines - Associate Professor Matthew Snape, University of Oxford


Conclusions of P-SERENADE project- implications for pneumococcal vaccine policy and what is happening next – Dr Maria Knoll, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Optimal schedules for control of pneumococcal infection in countries with high and low carriage

Moderator – TBC

Moderated panel discussion on policy issue: switch from 3+0 to 2+1, will it make a difference to control? Is it a necessary step to establish herd protection?

  • Professor Lay-Myint Yoshida, Nagasaki University, Japan AND Prof Shrijana Shrestha, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal – What is the best PCV schedule for LMIC? results from trials in Asian countries

  • Professor David Goldblatt, UCL – What we have learned from the UK on 1+1 vs 2+1

  • Professor Anthony Scott, KEMRI Wellcome Trust – Role of catch up campaigns

  • Professor Stefan Flasche, LSHTM – Caveats for PCV schedules that rely on herd effects in countries with intensive transmission

  • Dr Brenda Kwambana Adams, UCL – Prevention of ST-1 pneumococcal outbreaks in the meningitis belt

Including live discussion, Q&A, audience voting


 How should MenACWYX vaccine be used in the meningitis belt? Is more research needed to inform strategy?

Moderator: Professor James Stuart, WHO and University of Bristol


  • Professor Samba Sow, Center for Vaccine Development, Mali – The importance of MenACWYX vaccine for meningitis belt countries

  • Dr Lee Hampton, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Geneva – GAVI view on the use of MenACWYX in the meningitis belt

  • Dr Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge – Which age groups should be targeted for mass vaccination campaigns? Results from modelling studies

  • Dr Matt Coldiron, Epicentre / Médecins Sans Frontières – The need for a cluster randomised trial on impact on carriage to inform vaccination strategy 

Including live discussion, audience Q&A, and voting on 2 questions:

1. Once licensed and WHO prequalified, MenACWYX vaccine should immediately replace MenA in EPI programmes

A. without any mass campaigns

B. with mass campaigns e.g. ages 2-19 years across the meningitis belt

C. with mass campaigns e.g. ages 2-19 years but only in highest risk countries

2. A cluster-randomised trial is needed now to measure the impact of MenACWYX vaccine on carriage to support decisions on vaccination strategy

A. Yes

B. No

Close - Vinny Smith, MRF and CoMO


We are inviting submission of poster abstracts for Meningitis Research Foundation Conference 2021. The deadline has now been extended to 24 September 2021.

Abstracts, and posters will be published for all registered delegates to view live during the conference and on demand afterwards on the virtual conference platform. This year poster authors will also have the option to record a short video to post on the platform.

Additionally, authors of the top fifteen abstracts, chosen by the steering committee, will be invited to give a 5-minute presentation (pre-recorded as a video) of their work during the plenary conference session on Day 2. There will also be an award for the best poster.

The Steering Committee will consider abstracts on any form of meningitis, sepsis, or associated infections, from a scientific or healthcare perspective, including prevention, diagnosis, recognition and treatment, health systems research, sequelae and their management, pathogenesis, pathophysiology, epidemiology, health economics, disease burden, immunology, or microbiology.

Abstracts need to be submitted to one of the following categories:

1. Prevention and epidemic control

2. Diagnosis and treatment

3. Disease surveillance

4. Support and care for people affected by meningitis 

5. Advocacy and engagement

If you are unsure which category your poster best fits under, please contact Linda Glennie ( to discuss this further.

Please submit your poster abstract on this form and e-mail it to Linda ( by Friday 24th September 2021. The abstracts should be written in English and the presenting author is required to ensure that all co-authors are aware of the content of the abstract before submission.

Abstracts accepted will also be made available on our website after the conference.

Instructions for preparation of posters will be sent together with the acceptance notification. All authors of accepted abstracts will be asked to send in a pdf copy of their poster before the conference for consideration by the Steering Committee, who will award a prize for the best poster (NB: the best poster prize will not necessarily be awarded to one of the poster presenters).

Presenting authors must be registered delegates. Booking is open on this conference webpage. There is a discount for junior trainees (below the grade of specialty registrar) nurses, post-docs and those residing for more than 60% of the year in countries classified with low income and lower-middle income economies.


The steering committee for Meningitis Research Foundation Conference 2021:

  • Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust/LSHTM
  • Dr Mark Alderson, PATH
  • Professor Ray Borrow, Public Health England, Vaccine Evaluation Unit, Manchester
  • Professor Dominique Caugant, NIPH
  • Professor Sir Brian Greenwood, LSHTM
  • Professor Paul Heath, SGUL
  • Professor Robert Heyderman, UCL
  • Prof Beate Kampmann, LSHTM
  • Dr Brenda Kwambana Adams, UCL
  • Dr Senjuti Saha, Child Health Research Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Dr Matthew Snape, Oxford Vaccine Group
  • Professor James Stuart, University of Bristol/ WHO
  • Dr Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Anne von Gottberg, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Johannesburg
  • Linda Glennie, Meningitis Research Foundation
Group B Streptococcus: Accelerating Evidence-based Action for Every Family Everywhere
LAUNCH: WHO’s Value Case Proposition
Wednesday 3rd November from 2 pm (FREE ONLINE)
Hosted by The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with WHO and Meningitis Research Foundation, plus many partners

Worldwide over 20 million pregnant women are estimated to be affected by Group B Streptococcal infection. To date most focus has been on infections in children, yet there are many additional consequences for women themselves, including stillbirths, preterm birth and long-term impacts for affected survivors.

The WHO-led Value Case Proposition includes years of work by many teams from all over the world on new data, analysis regarding long-term health and economic consequences of GBS disease, and estimated costs/benefits of vaccination or other prevention approaches.

The report findings will be relevant for families, policymakers, clinicians, scientists, & industry. There will be a particular spotlight on meningitis and this Report is linked to the WHO Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030. 
International Symposium on Streptococcus agalactiae Disease (ISSAD2021)
Thursday 4th to Friday 5th November

The second International Symposium on Streptococcus agalactiae Disease (ISSAD2021) will convene stakeholders sharing the latest science to accelerate progress against GBS, including meningitis. As well as dynamic and diverse plenaries, there will be interactive parallel sessions, a poster competition with scholarships, and mentoring for next generation low- and middle-income country scientists.

Conference content will span discovery (genomics and host response), through development (including the latest updates on vaccines), to delivery of care in MNCH systems. Join us to advance evidence for action against GBS, to protect every family everywhere.
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
£160/€190/$214 decodes the genetic information in a sample of meningococcal bacteria. This information helps us to track new forms of meningitis and campaign to introduce new vaccines.
Liz Rodgers
Research Projects Manager

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m MRF's Research Projects Manager.

If you’d like to know more about this area of MRF's work, do get in touch.

Tel: 0333 405 6258
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