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Simon Draper

Vaccine Development and Antibody Immunology

Prof Draper has supervised 20 DPhil students over the past 15 years with a 100% completion rate, and has been awarded a Medical Sciences Division Teaching Award for DPhil supervision. Close attention is paid to the generation of a stimulating, productive and collaborative learning environment, with a regular programme of informal lab meetings and ‘journal club’ in addition to more formal seminar opportunities. All students are expected to present their research internally and at relevant conferences, and to work towards publications. A student could expect to learn a broad range of transferable practical techniques in areas such as molecular biology, virology, parasitology, or vaccine immunology.

The Draper Lab study vaccine-induced immunity, with a particular focus on antibody immunology and human malaria infection. A critical strength of the group is a strong dual focus on preclinical vaccine development in parallel with early-phase clinical vaccine testing and experimental medicine studies. In particular, the group's research interests span: strategies for improved vaccine antigen identification; development of improved vaccine delivery strategies; assessment of quantitative antibody correlates of protective immunity; and assessment of human vaccine-induced antibody responses to guide structure-based immunogen design and to better understand protective mechanisms of immunity. The Draper Lab’s close integration of preclinical and clinical activities offers near-unique opportunities for students to be involved throughout this process; and to-date, 11 candidate vaccines developed by the Draper Lab, often in the context of DPhil projects, have moved from laboratory studies and into the clinical trials programme. Within the Department of Biochemistry’s “Infection and Disease Processes” Theme, as well as via strong links to the numerous other groups working on vaccinology in Oxford, DPhil students have the opportunity to interact with senior researchers with a wide variety of expertise, and to develop a broad skill-set to support a career in 21st century translational medicine.