Recipients of the Sabin Rising Star Award

2021 - Nginache Nampota-Nkomba, MBBS, MSc

Dr. Nampota-Nkomba is a research physician, clinical research site leader and vaccine advocate. She leads a research team at Blantyre Malaria Project (BMP), a center of excellence in infectious disease research in Malawi established as a multiversity partnership between the Universities of Malawi, Maryland (US) and Michigan State (US).

Her passion for the prevention of infectious diseases developed when she witnessed the toll taken on patients and families while working at the largest government referral hospital in Malawi. She joined BMP with the aim of improving the health of her fellow Malawians and people in need of lifesaving vaccines worldwide. Currently, she works to implement high quality, locally conceived and relevant evidence-generating research. Dr. Nampota-Nkomba is the on-site investigator for a clinical trial studying the immunogenicity and safety of a novel typhoid conjugate vaccine in African children. She also investigates HIV/AIDS and malaria in vulnerable populations, including studies of malaria prophylaxis in people living with HIV, the impact of HIV on infant immunity and antimalarial and antiretroviral drug interactions.

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2020 - Katherine E. Gallagher, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Dr. Katherine Gallagher has demonstrated a commitment to improving human health by informing immunization policy through scientific evidence.

For her doctorate in epidemiology with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she assessed barriers to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine delivery based on experiences from 45 low- and middle-income countries. Her findings informed the WHO global vaccine recommendations and the application process for Gavi support.

When the Ebola epidemic in West Africa peaked during Dr. Gallagher’s fieldwork in Tanzania, she volunteered to help set up a Phase I Ebola vaccine trial until the full-time trial manager was recruited. After finishing her doctorate, she coordinated Phase II trials for the same vaccine in Sierra Leone.

Her experience during her doctoral program gave Dr. Gallagher a deep interest in the sustainability of vaccine programs. Many low- and middle-income governments receive the majority of their national vaccination budget from Gavi, and as their economies grow, become ineligible for Gavi support. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is one of the most expensive vaccines on the market at $10 per fully immunized child. To address this global problem, Dr. Gallagher is now conducting a trial of fractional doses of PCV in Kenya, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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