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Dokter Margaux GERBAUX

Médecin, 4e année spécialisation en pédiatrie

Aantal beurzen:
2019-2020 - 2020-2021 - 2021-2022: "Bourse Fonds Manoel & Lauder Prado" | 2022-2023: "Bourse en mémoire du Docteur Olivier Engels"

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System vaccinology in toddlers and children

Project supervisor

Prof. Stephanie Humblet-Baron,
Prof. Corinne Vandermeulen,
Prof. Pierre Smeesters,

Labo of hospitaal waar het project plaatsvindt

Adaptive Immunology Laboratory, department of microbiology and immunology, KU Leuven

Objectives of research

We aim to perform the first systems vaccinology studies in children, by performing high-depth immunological analysis before and after vaccination in order to study immunological responses to vaccination in paediatric population.


Despite the universal vaccination of children worldwide and their undeniable efficiency, infectious diseases are still a leading cause of children morbidity and mortality. Up until now, most vaccines have been achieved through trial and error without a precise understating of what makes them successful. As we are now facing not only resurgence of serious infectious diseases, like Measles and Pertussis for which current vaccines are not inducing a sufficient protection, but also new emerging diseases, like the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to study the precise mechanisms underlying successful vaccination and identify the markers of successful response to generate better, faster and more efficient vaccines not only for more challenging pathogens but also for more vulnerable populations. Systems vaccinology is a method that uses multiple analyses to study all the layers of the immune response following vaccination and understand this process as well as the factor making a vaccine highly successful. Despite children being the most important recipient of vaccines, these studies have almost exclusively been performed on adults, whose immune system is radically different and we still don’t know the precise mechanism leading to optimal vaccine-induced protection in children. We aim to perform the first “systems vaccinology study” in children, across multiple age groups and multiple vaccines, collaborating with well-baby clinics, day care centers and schools. We will perform blood tests on children before and after vaccination. By analyzing them, we aim to understand the immunological response to vaccination and identify the parameters that dictate this response. With these results, we intend to predict successful vaccination in children and determine how to improve vaccination in this vulnerable population in order to be able to shift vaccine development to a more efficient and functional approach.

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