Christine Stabell Benn, MD, PhD, DMSc, MAE, has worked at the Bandim Health Project
in Guinea-Bissau (BHP, www.bandim.org) since 1993. Dr. Benn holds a position as
Professor in Global Health at University of Southern Denmark.
Her research focuses on health interventions and their effect on overall health in real life.
Based to a large extent on work done in one of the world’s poorest countries, GuineaBissau, she has observed that vaccines affect overall health to a much larger extent than
explained by their specific effects. In addition to their well-known specific effects, they
have so-called “non-specific effects”, which may be at least as important as their specific
effects. Intriguingly, these effects are often sex-differential.
Her main contribution has been to take the observations on non-specific effects of
vaccines and vitamins forward to randomised controlled trials, being the PI for many trials
testing the overall health effects of vitamin A supplementation, BCG vaccine, oral polio
vaccine and early measles vaccine.
She also bridged to immunology and explored the biological mechanisms underlying the
non-specific effects of vitamin A and vaccines.
She has taken the observations back to Denmark, to test in randomised trials and
observational studies whether non-specific effects of vaccines are important in highincome settings as well.
Most recently, she is testing whether non-specific effects of BCG vaccine and oral polio
vaccine can provide partial protection against COVID-19.
Dr. Elizabeth Enninga (N – ing – Gah) is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Immunology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. She received her PhD from Mayo Graduate School where she focused on pathways that lead to tumor immune tolerance. During her studies, Dr. Enninga fell in love with reproductive immunology and transitioned her research career to understanding maternal-fetal immune interactions during normal and complicated pregnancies. Her lab collaborates closely with physicians from pathology, maternal-fetal medicine, radiology, and pediatrics to evaluate immune-medicated mechanisms of stillbirth, preterm birth, and fetal growth restriction with the goal of translating these findings into improved clinical care. She is currently a K12 BIRCWH scholar and is funded by both the NICHD and NIAID to study T-cell responses in the placenta.
Professor Michael S. Pepper
Michael Pepper is Director of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Director of the South African Medical Research Council Extramural Unit for Stem Cell Research and Therapy, and a Research Professor in the Department of Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria. He is also professeur associé in the Department of Genetic Medicine and Development in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Michael obtained his MBChB in 1982 from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cape Town, and moved to Geneva in 1986, where he obtained his PhD in 1990, MD in 1992 and Privat Docent in 1997. He returned to South Africa in July 2004, and maintains research and teaching commitments in Pretoria and Geneva.
Michael has worked extensively in the field of clinically-oriented (translational) molecular cell biology and has made seminal contributions to understanding the mechanisms of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. His current scientific interests are in the fields of cell and gene therapy and genetic susceptibility to disease, as well as the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of work in these fields. Michael has more than 320 medical and scientific publications with and H-Index of 73/87 (Scopus/Google Scholar). He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and has received a number of awards for his research including the South African Health Excellence Award for Scientific Excellence in 2019.