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Scope 36 - Stirring lost memories with designer vaccines

1 June 2008

With an extraordinary gift for thinking abstractly and an intelligence and passion for immunology that is second to none, Infectious Diseases PhD student Lisa Goldsack is a formidable force in the fight against tuberculosis (Tb). The currently available vaccine against Tb, BCG, is good at protecting infants and young children from the disease but has little effect in adults.  

It is estimated that one New Zealander a day is being newly diagnosed with Tb, and with the increasing incidence of antibiotic-resistance, we urgently need preventative measures such as new vaccines. The focus of Lisa's PhD research is on understanding why the immune system appears to forget how to protect adults from developing Tb, and how we can use this information to design more effective vaccines that stimulate life-long immunity against the bacteria thatcause the disease.  

Supervised by Dr Joanna Kirman, Lisa was successful in publishing her theoretical work in the international scientific journal Tuberculosis in 2007 and her research is considered to be at the cutting edge of New Zealand vaccine development and design.