MRF Conference 2023

Access speaker information, abstracts and posters

In 2023, we held our first ever hybrid Meningitis Research Foundation conference and were delighted to be joined by almost 250 delegates, from 36 countries.

Our fourteenth Meningitis Research Foundation conference was aligned to the World Health Organization Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 and featured updates on the latest advances and today’s challenges for meningitis, delivered by 46 world leading experts, from seventeen countries.

The programme (see below) was rich in content and included three panel discussions and 26 presentations. Presentations were recorded and made available on-demand on the virtual platform within one week of the conference end, with closed captions added to all presentations. Access to the platform was available until the 2nd of February 2024, giving registered delegates time to catch up on all the exciting content.

Forty-seven poster presenters presented their work, with many of these posters being available to view under the 'Posters for downloading' section. The poster prize was awarded to Arif Felek, MHRA for the poster entitled: 'Investigation into the Potential of two conserved recombinant proteins as Group B Streptococcus Vaccine Candidates'.

On this page you will find information about the conference steering committee, the bursary fund, abstracts and posters (where we have permission) and sponsors. You can find this information by scrolling down the webpage to the dropdown options.

The Royal College of Physicians certified the conference for 12 category 1 (external) CPD credits.

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Day 1 – Tuesday 7 November

8:00 – 9.00 Registration and coffee

9.00 Welcome, Vinny Smith, Chief Executive Meningitis Research Foundation and Confederation of Meningitis Organisations

Lifetime impact of meningitis: access to support and after care – Chair: Dr Suzanne Anderson, UCL MRC Clinical Trials Unit

9.15-9.40 Patient experience of meningitis and septicaemia in high and low to middle income regions, Dr Ella Bailey, UK member of MRF and Mr Opuda Mitchell Bennett, Nigeria

9.40-10.05 Improving diagnosis, treatment and care for people affected by meningitis in LMICs, Dr Nicoline Schiess, World Health Organization (WHO)

10.05-10.30 Understanding the long-term impacts of bacterial meningitis on babies, children and adults, Dr Merijn Bijlsma, Amsterdam UMC

10.30-10.55 COFFEE, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

Current picture of meningitis– Chair: Professor Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge

10.55-11.15 UK epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease and pneumococcal meningitis, Dr Mary Ramsay UK-Health Security Agency (UK-HSA)

11.15-11.35 H.influenzae meningitis in the Hib conjugate vaccine era: a global success story and emerging challenges, Professor Mary Slack, Griffith University, Queensland

11.35-11.55 Estimating the global burden of meningitis in all ages, Rose Bender, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

11.55-12.15 Uncovering the hidden burden of meningitis mortality in the under 5's in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, Dr Quique Bassat, Barcelona Institute for Global Health and Manhiça Health Research Centre, Mozambique

12.15-12.35 Q&A and discussion after all speakers have presented

12.35-13.30 LUNCH, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

13.30-14.30 Panel discussion on AMR and bacterial meningitis: global perspectives of current issues – Chair and moderator: Professor Mike Sharland, St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

To what extent is AMR threatening the control and management of bacterial meningitis? What is the current and future role of whole genome sequencing in identifying and monitoring AMR and emerging threats?

  • 13.30-13.40 Overview of priority pathogens and the role of vaccines in preventing AMR, Dr Mateusz Hasso-Agopsowicz, WHO
  • 13.40-13.50 Meningococcal resistant strains, Professor Muhamed-Kheir Taha, Institut Pasteur Paris
  • 13.50-14.00 Pneumococcal resistant strains, Professor Angela Brueggemann, University of Oxford
  • 14.00- 14.10 Klebsiella and e-coli resistant strains, Professor Nicholas Thomson, Wellcome Sanger Institute
  • 14.10-14.30 Q&A and discussion after all speakers have presented

Recognition, diagnosis and treatment – Chair: Dr Fiona McGill, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

  • 14.30- 14.55 Addressing Cryptococcal meningitis as a key strategy to ending deaths from AIDS, Dr Angela Loyse, St George’s University of London (SGUL)
  • 14.55-15.20 UK guidelines for meningitis and sepsis: what updates have been made, and what is the likely impact? Professor Robert Heyderman, University College London (UCL) and Professor Paul Heath, SGUL 
15:20-15:50 TEA, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

Diagnostic methods for meningitis – Chair: Professor Dominique Caugant, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

  • 15.50-16.05 The spectrum of existing methodologies for meningitis diagnosis, Dr Kanny Diallo, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS), Côte d'Ivoire
  • 16.05-16.30 Development of rapid diagnostic tests, Katya Fernandez, WHO
  • 16.30-16.55 Blood testing to enhance the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis in Sub-Saharan Africa: BLoTIMA study findings and potential future applications of Dried Blood Spots, Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust
17.00-17.50 Evening drinks reception for all delegates and participants
 

Day 2 – Wednesday 8 November

8-8.20 Registration 

8.20-9.10 Pfizer satellite symposium
Keeping up with the changing epidemiology of invasive pneumococcal disease and its prevention - Dr Jamie Findlow, Pfizer Inc

This meeting has been organised and funded by Pfizer Ltd

8.20-8.25 Welcome and Introductions – Dr Jamie Findlow, Pfizer Inc

8.25-8.45 Invasive pneumococcal disease in Bristol and Bath, UK, 2006-2022, Dr Catherine Hyams, University of Bristol

8.45-9.05 Broadening vaccine protection against invasive pneumococcal disease, Dr Christian Theilacker, Pfizer Inc

9.05-9.10 Q&A and closing remarks, Dr Jamie Findlow, Pfizer Inc

Please note this session is excluded from CPD approval

WHO Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 – Chair: Professor Sir Brian Greenwood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

9.10-9.30 Towards a world free of meningitis: the WHO Global Roadmap to defeat meningitis by 2030, Antoine Durupt, WHO

9.30-10.00 
Panel discussion - why the road map matters for research, Antoine Durupt, WHO; Professor Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge; Dr Matthew Coldiron, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Prevention and epidemic control (1) – Chair: Professor James Stuart, University of Bristol

10.00-10.25 Invasive meningococcal disease in countries of the African meningitis belt: recent outbreaks, overview of MenAfriVac introduction and WHO SAGE recommendations for the introduction of MenACWYX, Dr Andre Bita, WHO

10.25-10.50 Global overview of infant and adolescent MenB programmes; current schedules and potential future use of MenABCWY vaccines, Professor Marco Safadi, Santa Casa de São Paulo School of Medicine, Brazil

10.50-11.20 COFFEE, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

Prevention and epidemic control (2) - Chair: Professor Saul Faust, University of Southampton 

11.20-11.45 Post-pandemic gonorrhoea: does this change the perspective for meningitis prevention? Professor Calman MacLennan, University of Oxford

11.45-12.10 New approaches to developing MenB vaccines, Professor Christoph Tang, University of Oxford
 

Prevention and epidemic control (3) – Chair: Professor Paul Heath, SGUL

12.10-12.35 The future of GBS prevention: current status of vaccines and serocorrelates of protection, Dr Konstantinos Karampatsas, St George’s University of London

12.35-13.00
 Preventing viral meningitis: what vaccines are in development? Dr Seilesh Kadambari, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London

13.00-14.00 LUNCH, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

Poster presentations from the top 5 poster abstracts and award for the best poster - Chair: Professor Robert Heyderman, UCL

14.00-14.06 Novel cross-protective meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccine antigens identified via Reverse Vaccinology 2.0, Dr Fadil Bidmos, Imperial College London

14.07-14.13 Can some childhood mental health disorders be prevented? Long-term risk of psychiatric disorders following neonatal, invasive Group-B Streptococcus disease. A population-based cohort study from Denmark, Dr Malene Lykke, Aarhus University, Denmark

14.14-14.20 Non-invasive screening for meningitis via high-frequency transfontenellar ultrasound: Results from the UNITED-Meningitis study in Mozambique, Dr Muhammad Sidat, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique

14.21-14.27 Changes in invasive meningococcal disease in England before and after the first Covid-19 lockdown, Dr Aiswarya Lekshmi, UK-HSA

14.28-14.34 Invasive Meningococcal Disease in southern Vietnam in ten-year period from 2012 to 2021, Dr Thanh Van Phan, Pasteur Insitute of Ho Chi Minh City

14.35 Award for best poster

14.40-15.10 TEA, EXHIBITIONS AND POSTERS

Prevention and epidemic control (4) – Chair: Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust 

15.10-15.35 Pneumococcal vaccination in the UK: Current and future perspectives, Professor David Goldblatt, UCL 

15.35- 16.50 Panel discussion on: What are the opportunities for increasing access to pneumococcal vaccines?

  • 15.35-15.45 Overcoming barriers to PCV introduction in Middle income and GAVI transitioning countries, Professor Fiona Russell, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne   
  • 15.45-15.55 PCV roll out in the African region: barriers and opportunities, Professor Martin Antonio, MRC Unit The Gambia
  • 15.55-16.05 Use of reduced dose PCV schedules to prevent pneumococcal infection, Professor Stefan Flasche, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 
  • 16.05-16.25 Is fractional dosing an effective and affordable approach to protecting wider populations against IPD?
    • Results of cluster RCT of mass campaigns of fractional dose PCV in children aged 1-9 in Niger, Dr Matthew Coldiron, MSF
    • Results of an individually randomised trial of fractional dose PCV in infants in Kenya, Dr Katherine Gallagher, LSHTM and The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • 16.25-16.50 Discussion and Q&A after all panellists have presented

16.50-17.00 Close

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  • Dr Merijn Bijlsma, Amsterdam University Medical Centres
  • Professor Ray Borrow, UK-Health Security Agency
  • Professor Dominique Caugant, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Dr Matthew Coldiron, Médecins Sans Frontières
  • Dr Kanny Diallo, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Professor Sir Brian Greenwood, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Paul Heath, St George’s University of London
  • Professor Robert Heyderman, University College London (UCL)
  • Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Research Programme, and UCL
  • Dr Lorenzo Pezzoli, World Health Organization
  • Professor Fiona Russell, Murdoch Children's Research Institute and University of Melbourne
  • Dr Senjuti Saha, Child Health Research Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Professor Caroline Trotter, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Anne von Gottberg, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa
  • Liz Rodgers, Meningitis Research Foundation
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The diversity of participants attending the conference in person was greatly facilitated by the bursary fund, co-funded by PATH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which supported the attendance of delegates from India, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Vietnam.

The call for applications to the bursary scheme was launched on the 19th of April 2023, inviting submissions from interested applicants who were nationals of or residents of low-income or lower-middle-income counties for at least 60% of the year. The call for applications closed on the 2nd of May 2023. 94 applications were received from Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia. Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.  

We asked bursary recipients who attended the conference to complete an anonymous questionnaire about their experience, and all the respondents rated the conference as excellent. All respondents reported that they had learned something new about meningitis, and that the conference had made a positive contribution to their work or career. An important aspect of delegates attending the conference on a bursary fund, is ensuring that learnings from the conference extend more widely, and as is referenced by several of the participants, the timely availability of the conference recordings within the platform, has greatly facilitated the sharing of learnings with colleagues.  
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Posters for downloading

MRF Conference 2023 – Poster abstract book
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The Value of Invasive Meningococcal Disease Combination Vaccine - a Qualitative Study of Adolescents and Parents/Caregivers' Preferences in the US
Shahina Begum, GSK
Invasive meningococcal disease vaccination - a targeted literature review of adolescents and parents/caregiver' preferences 
Shahina Begum, GSK
A Systematic Literature Review of Disparities That May Influence Health Equity in Invasive Meningococcal Disease Prevention in the US 
Shahina Begum, GSK
The Value of Invasive Meningococcal Disease Combination Vaccine - a Qualitative Study of Healthcare Providers' Preferences in the United States (US)
Shahina Begum, GSK
Genetic detoxification of an unencapsulated meningococcal vaccine strain enhances potency and cross reactivity of outer membrane vesicle vaccine responses
Kathryn A. Matthias, US Food and Drug Administration
2023A Phase 3B, Open-Label Study to Evaluate the Safety and Immunogenicity of MenACWY-TT Vaccine in Healthy Infants Given at 3 and 12 Months of Age
Lefteris Zolotas, Pfizer Ltd
Rationale for a Pentavalent Meningococcal Serogroup ABCWY Vaccine: a Review of Epidemiologic and Clinical Data
Lefteris Zolotas, Pfizer Ltd
Persistence of Immune Response After MenACYW-TT Vaccination in Children, Adolescents, and Adults
Zambrano Betzana, Sanofi
Invasive Meningococcal Disease In Older Adults – Current Perspectives And Call For Action
Elena Moya, Sanofi
Safety and Immunogenicity of Quadrivalent Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (MPV ACYW135) Compared with Quadrivalent Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (Menactra®) in Malian Children
Ruoyu Hu, Walvax Biotechnology Co.
Investigation into the Potential of two conserved recombinant proteins as Group B Streptococcus Vaccine Candidates
Arif Felek, MHRA
Can some childhood mental health disorders be prevented? Long-term risk of psychiatric disorders following neonatal, invasive Group-B Streptococcus disease. A population-based cohort study from Denmark.
Malene R. Lykke, Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospitals
In hospital death among under five years children hospitalized with meningitis in the eastern of the Democratic Republic of Congo 
Jeannière Tumusifu Manegabe, Evangelical University in Africa
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Cost-effectiveness analysis of implementing a non-invasive screening tool (Neosonics) for meningitis among newborns in Mozambique, Morocco and Spain
Sara Ajanovic, ISGlobal, Barcelona
Meningitis screening in young infants based on a novel, non-invasive, transontanellar ultrasound device: A proof-of-concept study
Sara Ajanovic, ISGlobal, Barcelona
A Review on the Comprehensive Burden of Gonorrhoea in Europe
Shahina Begum, GSK
Development of a novel multiplex real-time PCR assay for detection of the four main causes of bacterial meningitis
Kanny Diallo, CSRS, Côte d’Ivoire 
Development of a new LAMP assay for diagnosing the main meningitis pathogens
Kanny Diallo, CSRS, Côte d’Ivoire 
Non-invasive screening for meningitis via high-frequency transfontenellar ultrasound: Results from the UNITEDMeningitis study in Mozambique
Muhammad Sidat, Eduardo Mondlane University
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Changes in invasive meningococcal disease in England before and after the first Covid-19 lockdown
Aiswarya Lekshmi, Meningococcal Reference Unit, UKHSA 
Global Meningitis Genome Library: The Power of Curation
Kasia M. Parfitt, University of Oxford
Laboratory surveillance of invasive isolates of Neisseria meningitidis. Argentina 2015-2022
Adriana Efron, INEI-ANLIS “Dr. Carlos G. Malbrán”
Characterisation of non-meningococcal/gonococcal Neisseria strains from invasive disease cases in England
Lloyd Walsh, Meningococcal Reference Unit, UKHSA 
Exploiting real-time genomic surveillance data to assess 4CMenB meningococcal vaccine performance in Scotland 2015-2022
Charlene Rodrigues (Laura MacDonald presenting), Public Health Scotland
Meningococcal Invasive Diseases in southern Vietnam in ten year period from 2021 to 2021
Thanh V. Phan, Pasteur Institute of Ho Chi Minh City
Meningitis caused by Streptococcus agalactiae in the Czech Republic – data of the National Reference Laboratory for Streptococcal Infections and The National Health Information System database, 2008-2022
Sandra Vohrnova, Czech National Institute of Public Health
Defeating Meningitis in Northern Nigeria: The Streptococcus pneumoniae Jigsaw
Uzal Umar (Represented by Stephen Bentley), University of Jos, Nigeria
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A UK survey to understand the experiences and support needs of adults with a recent meningitis experience
Claire Donovan, Meningitis Now
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Meningitis health communications: examining channels, messaging, and best practice in the African Meningitis Belt
Brian Davies, Meningitis Research Foundation
Development of communication tools on meningitis adapted to the African continent
Kanny Diallo, CSRS, Côte d’Ivoire 

MRF conference logos
MRF Conference 2023 has been made possible thanks to funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK, and Sanofi, who are supporting the conference via a grant, PATH, who supported the bursary scheme, and Pfizer, Kriba, MSD and Serum Institute of India who are conference sponsors. The conference is operated independently, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GSK, Kriba, MSD, PATH, Pfizer, Sanofi and Serum Institute of India having no editorial control over its content. The funding from Sanofi is strictly limited to supporting the scientific / educational sessions.