Two leading scientists join IVVN team as co-directors

30 May 2022

The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network is delighted to announce that Professor Christine Maritz-Olivier and Professor Simon Graham have become Co-Directors of the Network. Along with founding IVVN Director Dr Tim Connelley, they will help lead the Network Management Team that runs the Network’s day-to-day activities.

Christine Maritz-Olivier

Professor Christine Maritz-Olivier is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, where she leads the Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases research programme. Her research looks at how the cattle immune system responds to ticks and the diseases they transmit, helping to improve vaccine formulations. To ensure translation of their research to field conditions, their vaccinology studies are conducted in parallel with phylogeography of tick species and animal models to study co-infestation, predominantly using Babesia species.

Before starting her current role, Christine carried out postdoctoral research as a Wellcome Trust funded fellow in both South Africa and the Netherlands. Christine is also co-initiator of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded cattle tick vaccine project (CATVAC) and is a past President of the International Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine. She has received several international scientific awards, serves on a number of editorial boards for international journals, and has been a member of the team delivering the IVVN African Schools Outreach Programme in South Africa since 2018.

Professor Maritz-Olivier said: “I am excited to be joining the Network Management Team of the IVVN, and be part of an enthusiastic team focused on bringing together current researchers in the field while also creating an enabling environment for the next generation of veterinary vaccinologists.

“I believe the IVVN has a vital part to play in scientific training and leadership. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, where skills development will be key for the realisation of the sustainable development goals on the continent. As stated by Marie Curie: ‘You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals’.”

Simon Graham

Professor Simon Graham leads the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) Immunology group at The Pirbright Institute in the United Kingdom, and is also a visiting professor at the University of Surrey. Simon’s research seeks to understand how PRRS viruses interact with the immune system, and to exploit this knowledge to develop improved PRRS vaccines. He also leads research aimed at developing a vaccine for use in pigs to protect against the zoonotic Nipah virus.

Before joining Pirbright, Simon led the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s immunological and vaccine-related research on a number of viral diseases of livestock. He has also previously worked on theilerioses vaccine development at the University of Edinburgh and the International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya.

Professor Graham said: “I am honoured and excited to take on this role. I look forward to working with the IVVN team and members to continue connecting and catalysing veterinary vaccinology for the benefit of both livestock and human health.”

After serving as Co-Director since the Network launched, and previously serving as Director of the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network, Professor Bryan Charleston will be stepping down from the Network Management Team. The team will continue to benefit from his experience and advice as he joins the Network’s governing body, the Network Management Board.

Dr Tim Connelley, Network Director, said:

“I am thrilled that Christine and Simon have agreed to join the Network Management Team. This is an exciting time for the IVVN, as we come to the end of the original grant that funded the Network and move towards a new funding model. Christine and Simon’s experience and expertise will bring new perspectives and help drive new activities over the coming years.

“I also want to thank Bryan for the invaluable support and expertise he has provided over the past five years, and for the solid framework he built for the IVVN through the work of the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network. I am grateful that he will continue to support and advise the IVVN in his role on the Network Management Board.”

The IVVN brings together the global veterinary vaccinology community, helping to foster collaborations and address key vaccine development bottlenecks. Our 1,600 members work across the world in multiple sectors, collaborating to drive development of vaccines against priority livestock diseases that affect low- and middle-income countries. The Network launched in 2019 and is funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council through the Global Challenges Research Fund. The Network’s administrative offices are at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and The Pirbright Institute.

For more information on our structure and governance, visit our ‘About us’ section.