MRF Conference 2021

Speakers, abstracts, videos

We were delighted to be joined by delegates from 36 countries, at the Meningitis Research Foundation 2021 13th International Conference, which was aligned to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030. Over 60 expert speakers from 20 countries presented on a diversity of topics, from global meningitis aftercare to lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. 46 poster presenters showcased their work, and 15 authors were selected to give a short oral presentation as part of three parallel poster tracks. The poster prize was awarded to Dr Emma Wall, UCL for the poster entitled: ‘Transcriptome analysis of CSF from meningitis patients identifies a novel Streptococcus pneumoniae operon that is essential for establishing brain infection.’

If you were a registered delegate at the MRF Conference 2021, you can still re-visit the EventsAir platform, and catch up on all the session recordings, and re-visit the poster gallery and virtual exhibition stands until the 3rd February. To access the content, just re-visit the conference site and enter the log in details you used to access the live content. After the conference platform closes, content will be migrated to a password protected area on the MRF website, the details of which will be circulated in due course.

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

We are very pleased to have held 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 - Chair: Dr Senjuti Saha, Child Health Research Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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 and University of Oxford


WHO Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 and allied initiatives - Chair: Professor James Stuart, WHO and University of Bristol

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 (NICD), Johannesburg

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


Lessons and impact for meningitis in the COVID-19 era – Chair and Moderator: Professor Adam Finn, University of Bristol

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

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.

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

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

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

    • 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

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

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

12.10 - 13.00 Pfizer Satellite Symposium – Maintaining the momentum with meningococcal serogroup A, C, W and Y disease prevention

This promotional meeting is organised and funded by Pfizer Ltd and may include reference to Pfizer medicines relevant to the agenda topics.

Professor Marco Aurélio P. Sáfadi - Professor of Pediatrics, Santa Casa de São Paulo School of Medicine, Brazil

Professor Chiara Azzari - Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology, Meyer Children's Hospital, University of Florence, Italy

The epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease and the serogroups responsible for causing infection varies by geography and over time. This symposium will explore diverse immunisation strategies that have been implemented in different countries to help control invasive disease meningococcal disease and the impact of these programmes.

Please note that, under the law and the ABPI Code of Practice, Pfizer may only promote its medicines to members of the healthcare professions and other relevant decision makers. Therefore, no unqualified person may attend this meeting.

Improving data for meningitis: recognition, diagnosis and surveillance - closing the ascertainment gap between people affected and laboratory surveillance - Chair: Dr Anne von Gottberg, NICD, Johannesburg

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

Challenges and possible solutions to improving laboratory confirmation of bacterial meningitis – Dr André Bita, WHO

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 – Chair: Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust/LSHTM

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




Track 1: Prevention – Chair: Professor Paul Heath, St George’s University of London

Identification of Neisseria meningitidis specific patient derived antibodies using reverse vaccinology 2.0 - Camilla Gladstone, Imperial College London

Changes in the epidemiology of invasive meningococcal diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany- Dr Manuel Krone, Wuerzburg University Hospital and German National Reference Laboratory for Neisseria meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae

Natural Immunity in the African Meningitis Belt to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup X: A Seroprevalence Study – Sara Katz, UK Health Security Agency

Neisseria lactamica induces anti-Neisseria meningitidis B cell responses- Dr Adam Dale, University of Southampton

Immunogenicity of a Single 4CMenB Vaccine Booster in Adolescents 11 Years After Childhood Immunisation - Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, University of Oxford

16.45 Track 2: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment – Chair: Dr Anne von Gottberg, NICD, Johannesburg

Transcriptome analysis of CSF from meningitis patients identifies a novel Streptococcus pneumoniae operon that is essential for establishing brain infection – Dr Emma Wall, UCL

Modelling meningococcal A conjugate vaccine coverage in the meningitis belt from 2010 to 2019 - Rose Bender, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington

Phase 3 Trial of Safety, Tolerability and Immunogenicity of V114, 15-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Compared with 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in Adults 50 Years of Age and Older (PNEU-AGE) – Andrew Tran, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD)

In silico evaluation of current PCR diagnostic targets for the molecular detection of bacterial meningitis – Dr Kanny Diallo, Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique de Cote d’Ivoire, Abidjan

Meningococcal serogroup C (MenC) immune response of a novel tetanus toxoid conjugate quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (MenACYW-TT) compared to a quadrivalent (MCV4-TT) or monovalent (MenC-TT) meningococcal vaccine in healthy meningococcal vaccine-naïve toddlers - Professor Markus Knuf, Children’s hospital, HSK, Dr. Horst Schmidt Klinik, Wiesbaden, Germany

16.45 Track 3: Surveillance, Support and Advocacy - Chair: Professor Beate Kampmann, LSHTM

Assessing 4CMenB strain coverage of invasive meningococcal strains in an English and Welsh vaccine-eligible cohort using non-culture draft genome sequences- Dr Stephen Clark, UK Health Security Agency

Changes in Pneumococcal Meningitis Incidence Following Introduction of PCV10 and PCV13: Results from the Global PSERENADE Project - Yangyupei Yang, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Rapid Transmission of a Hyper-Virulent Meningococcal Clone Due to High Effective Contact Numbers and Super Spreaders- Jonathan Holmes, University of Leicester

Sequelae at hospital discharge in 49 children with invasive meningococcal disease, Chile, 2009-2019 – Dr Rodolfo Villena, University of Chile

MEVacP : a public engagement website about meningitis and vaccine policy – Dr Odile Harrison, University of Oxford

17.30 Award for best poster

17.30 - 17.40
Award for best poster

DAY 3: Wednesday 3rd November

Prevention and epidemic control (1) – Chair: Professor Ray Borrow, UK Health Security Agency, Vaccine Evaluation Unit

Real-world evidence of 4CMenB vaccine effectiveness against meningococcal B disease and gonorrhoea in adolescents – Professor Helen Marshall, University of Adelaide

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

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

  • Case for gonococcal prevention - Professor Cal MacLennan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Oxford and University of Birmingham

  • WHO perspective - Dr Sami Gottlieb, WHO

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

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

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


Prevention and epidemic control (2) - Chair and moderator: Professor Kate O’Brien, WHO

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

Including live discussion, Q&A, audience voting


Prevention and epidemic control (3) - Chair and moderator: Professor James Stuart, WHO and University of Bristol

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

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

  • GAVI view on the use of MenACWYX in the meningitis belt - Dr Lee Hampton, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Geneva
  • Which age groups should be targeted for mass vaccination campaigns? Results from modelling studies - Dr Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge
  • Deciding vaccine strategy based on current evidence - Dr Mark Alderson, PATH
  • The need for a cluster randomised trial on impact on carriage to inform vaccination strategy - Dr Matt Coldiron, Epicentre / Médecins Sans Frontières

Including live discussion, audience Q&A, and voting on 3 questions:

1. Once licensed and WHO prequalified, MenACWYX conjugate vaccine should replace MenA conjugate vaccine in EPI programmes across the meningitis belt combined with

  • A. no mass campaigns
  • B. mass campaigns of children/young adults across the belt
  • C. mass campaigns of children/young adults but only in highest risk countries


2. If mass campaigns are conducted, they should cover

  • A. 5-14 year olds
  • B. 1-19 year olds
  • C. 1-29 year olds


3. 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


Meningitis Research Foundation Conference 2021

Posters we have permission to share will be uploaded on to our website in late January 2021.


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 1.30 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.
A global vision for meningitis by 2030 and an action plan to get there.
A worldwide expert group raising awareness and helping prevent invasive meningococcal disease
We fund research into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and sepsis
Key data and meningitis estimates
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