The passion for Vaccinology started following a short vaccine course I attended in June 2018 organized by East Africa Center for Vaccines and Immunization (ECAVI). I later responded to the call for training opportunities to promising East African Scientist interested in vaccinology.
The collaboration was between Eastern Africa Consortium for Clinical Research (EACCR) with the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV).
The journey started in January 2020 with a prerequisite revision of virology, bacteriology and immunology which I enjoyed so much followed by convention in Lausanne.
The course overview meeting was helpful, and I had the opportunity of meeting the lecturers and fellow students from various parts of the world and with different background.
The two years of the course enabled equipped me with knowledge in vaccine development, logistics and operations, public health issues related to vaccines, article review, etc.
The emergence of Covid 19 pandemic made the course even more relevant as we kept discussing the progress of the pandemic in tandem with vaccine development. This helped me to organize and conduct several continuous medical educations (CMEs) for health professionals about Covid 19 vaccines thereby increasing awareness and thus promoting vaccine uptake.
The knowledge and skills acquired from this course has helped me participate in the design and conduct of medical research and we are now in the final stages of starting a phase II vaccine clinical trial.
I highly recommend this course for those interested in Vaccinology.
I am a former student at University of Lausanne Switzerland and joined the international masters of Vaccinology (IMVACC) in 2020.I had a chance to have a physical orientation in Lausanne at the University Hospital (CHUV) which was a great opportunity to meet the other class 2020 students.
The teaching was unique as it was tailored with annotated articles and on line lectures. The annotated articles helped improve on my reading capacity and interpretation of research done by other people. The notes to each topic were detailed and had references if a student had interest in reading extra about the topic.
The learning is self-directed as the student could make their own pace at which they had to read provided they covered all the required exercises before the end of the module. We made a discussion group as a team from Uganda and could discuss the work each of us didn’t understand.
The students from other countries were helpful as well as we could consult each other and guide each other on how to go about the different topics.
I thank the tutors for supporting me through the course, my supervisor Dr Muddu and my funders EDCTP.
One Bridget Dintwe
When I started the IMVACC course in January of 2020, never had I imagined that I would live the course contents in the next 2 years due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
That January we met our fellow students and course convenors in Lausanne, and discussed some of the theory of the work. The course convenors were very supportive, and ensure we were all equipped with what we needed to be able to complete this course. They were always available to answer our questions and kept in constant communication. That year, information about SARS-COV-2 was included in the course and we were able to discuss the plethora of findings that were coming out nearly daily. Many of the information we learnt in the course was directly applicable in my job as my organization became involved in COVID vaccine clinical trials. The course content made my interactions with vaccine developers and sponsors alike, all that more enriched and meaningful.
Above all else, this course filled in many gaps in understanding vaccine development, logistics and operations and some of the public health challenges that I do not get to see in my current job, thus completing the life cycle of a vaccine. It has been such an enriching experience doing this course and I would recommend this course to those interested in Vaccinology and Immunology.
I started the IMVACC training in 2020 and successfully completed the course in June 2022.I hold a background of MBChB degree. I had previously worked as primary care physician for HIV prevention studies among which include HPTN 084, a Phase 3 Double Blind Safety and Efficacy Study of Long-Acting Injectable Cabotegravir Compared to Daily Oral TDF/FTC for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in HIV-Uninfected Women.
IMVACC being a program delivered online, has enabled me learn how to efficiently interact and work with professionals from different cultures, geographical locations scattered around the world in a virtual environment. Tutors and fellow students were readily available to share information at anytime. I didn’t ever miss the reality of a physical class.
IMVACC has broadened my understanding of the specifics of research and development related to vaccines. I was not trained in this before. Following completion of this course, I have realized numerous knowledge gaps among medical professionals working in the vaccine industry.
The advent of COVID-19 pandemic has under scored the need for effective prevention strategies that need to be rolled out to counter infectious disease outbreaks. Knowing the fact that more similar infectious disease outbreaks will be experienced, there is need to prepare for such outbreaks. There is need to enhance capacity of technical expertise in Africa. The skills obtained from IMVACC is part of a building block that I will use to lead research related to prevention of infectious diseases. I am currently Co-Principal investigator for COVID-19 vaccine trials which include:
- COVPN 3008, a Multi-Center, Randomized, Efficacy Study of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine in Regions with SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern.
- VAT00008, a parallel-group, Phase III, multi-stage, modified double-blind, multi-armed study to assess the efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity of two SARS-CoV-2 Adjuvanted Recombinant Protein Vaccines (monovalent and bivalent) for prevention against COVID-19 in adults 18 years of age and older.
I intend to further research and gain deeper understanding of population differences in immunes responses to vaccines. Populations like children, elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised groups respond differently to vaccine antigens. This information is vital when deciding on primary series, antigen dose, boosters for vaccines, timing of doses, development of new vaccines etc.
I thank the IMVACC tutors for this training attained. I would also like to thank EDCTP(EACCR) for sponsoring my studies at University of Lausanne. It wouldn’t have been possible without this collaboration.
I am Dr Nassim Kyakuwa from Uganda currently working with Uganda Virus Research Institute-International Aids Vaccine Initiative Program (UVRI-IAVI) as a study physician on three COVID 19 Vaccine trials and a Co-Principal Investigator on one study.
I completed my IMVACC studies in April 2022. I loved every aspect of this excellently executed online training program. The course was delivered in a flexible manner, considering the overseas students’ needs with timely provision of information to enable students to attend tutorials. The tutors were so friendly, and accessible including being consulted on social media such as WhatsApp. The moodle learning platform was user-friendly, very easy to navigate, and the personal communication platform ensures privacy between one student and lecturers. The classes were very interactive, allowing students to give their views and experiences within their countries. However, there is need to dedicate time to accomplish tasks as many of the assessments were time bound. Through this course, I have made international friends in the field of vaccinology.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, the tutors ensured that students followed all COVID 19 vaccine clinical trials by updating the learning material content. This kept all students up to date with what was happening around the world, and gave us a better platform to explain vaccine development.
My master’s thesis addressed the determinants and level of uptake of COVID 19 vaccines among healthcare workers within Entebbe municipality, Uganda. The study identified key determinants to improve vaccine uptake. My next research will focus on assessing the impact of these interventions to improve vaccine uptake within the general populations.
My special interest is to improve vaccine hesitancy within the general population.
My IMVACC experience has not only provided me with a wealth of knowledge in the academic area of vaccinology but has also allowed me to connect with and learn from experts in the field. I completed the course part time while working as a clinical trial investigator at a vaccine research unit. I gained a much deeper understanding of different areas of clinical trials and vaccine research that I was able to apply to my day-to- day work.
The content of the course is very well structured. The modules are constructed to provide valuable information that gives an in- depth overview from immunology to disease areas, to vaccine development and availability, to clinical trials and public health. There is extensive guidance and support from the lecturing team in terms of planning, assignment feedback, continuous assessment, journal article review, and personal progress tracking.
I am truly grateful for the opportunity to participate in and complete this Masters course. I have been enriched with knowledge and skills to help me better navigate my workspace in clinical trials. Through this program I have also been empowered with the confidence to take on new challenges and engage with colleagues and experts in my field.
Thank you to the IMVACC team for uplifting and inspiring me.
After finishing my PhD in fundamental biological sciences, I wanted to shift my career on a domain where I can have a direct impact on public health and preventable diseases. In this sense, International Master in Vaccinology made perfect match with my career prospects and personal development plans. IMVACC is designed by an interdisciplinary approach to vaccine science and brings together components of vaccine immunology, development, manufacturing, public health and more. Learning from the experts of the field and lively discussions with other students made this experience a real privilege. Thanks to the user friendly platforms and support from the course managers, distance learning run smoothly and provided me the flexibility that I needed. I highly recommend this program for those who wants to embark on a career in the vaccine field or deepen their existing knowledge.
The IMVACC experience has really pushed me out of my comfort zone as a clinician. I was working in clinical trials priors to embarking on this IMVACC journey and I never realized how versatile the field of vaccinology truly was until I did this masters. I was inspired to take up this journey after attending a short Vaccinology course in 2019. I felt I needed to go much deeper and understand the different dimensions of vaccinology.
A special thank you to the director of my research unit, Prof Shabir A. Madhi for believing in me and motivating me to start this journey in 2019. To the South African Medical Research Council for funding this scholarship that allowed me to pursue these studies.
To all my mentors and instructors that guided us on this amazing journey of discovery in this extensive field of vaccinology a special word of gratitude. My mentor from Lausanne University, Prof Ivana Knezevic, my supervisor Dr Michelle Groom and co-supervisor Dr Nellie Myburgh who helped me to build a study from conception to implementation and finally to my master’s thesis.
This course gave us the opportunity to meet other students from around the world to discuss different topics related to vaccines and discuss ways to make things better even in low-income settings.
It was interesting to learn about the immunology of both disease and how vaccines work, vaccine manufacturing, clinical trials, and the public health impact of vaccines. The public health block really brought the course together. It makes you appreciate how vital vaccines are to preventing so many infectious diseases that would otherwise kill so many worldwide. It takes teamwork, empowering individuals with skills to be able to create a network of ethically sound and knowledgeable researchers. I would recommend this course for all researchers striving to help their communities to build high quality people centered research networks worldwide.
Joining IMVACC has been an incredible journey for me, with all that has happened in the past two and a half years. I joined IMVACC in January 2020 and recently completed the Master thesis component in June 2022. Being a clinical researcher and investigator on multiple HIV and COVID-19 vaccine trials, the course filled several gaps in my knowledge, particularly around immunology, good manufacturing practice, toxicology and post-marketing surveillance. I had been in the HIV vaccine field for 13 years already when I joined IMVACC and did not anticipate the in-depth knowledge I would gain during the course. We received excellent mentorship throughout the course from experts in the field, while also being able to contribute from our own experiences in our respective fields of work. It was a phenomenal experience to study vaccinology against a backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic, which also gave me the confidence to continue with the critical work I was undertaking with COVID-19 vaccine trials.
Our mentors always ensured that we received the most up to date information on the pandemic and on all aspects of the course. The Master thesis component offered me the opportunity to pursue a topic on HPV, which is an area of research that I had been planning to undertake for some time. This part of the course enabled me to develop my skills to think critically as a researcher. Being part of a group of students from a diverse background further enriched the IMVACC experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly online sessions we had which encouraged rich discussion and debate.
Overall, the IMVACC course has been an invaluable experience for me and has strengthened and developed my knowledge on vaccines and vaccine development. It is a course that I highly recommend for early to mid-level investigators in the vaccine field as this will broaden your knowledge substantially and stand you in good stead in your career. I am very grateful to the IMVACC programme and the SAMRC for affording me the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing course!
Gerhardt Boukes is the Chief Scientist for the mRNA Hub at Afrigen Biologics (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town, South Africa. Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines was awarded the global mRNA Hub for Technology Transfer and Training by the WHO. Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines is establishing the mRNA vaccine platform, building a pilot scale GMP vaccine facility and developing Africa’s first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. mRNA technology will be used to develop mRNA vaccines for other infectious vaccines affecting low- and middle-income countries.
Gerhardt joined the IMVACC programme in 2020 and successfully defended his thesis entitled “Developing novel mucosal adjuvant formulations using chitosan as mucoadhesive for human and/or animal vaccines” on 05 July 2022.
The IMVACC programme gave me a broad overview of immunology, infectious bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases, vaccine development, vaccine manufacturing, quality control and -assurance, and regulatory aspects associated with vaccines. Knowledge gained during the IMVACC programme is applicable to my current position and transferrable to the rest of the R&D and production teams at Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines.
This course started off with a face-to-face meeting at the University of Lausanne. It was a great opportunity for us to meet the faculty at Lausanne as well as students from other countries. The F2F meeting provided a clear guidance on how to access and utilize the Moodle learning platform which was user-friendly.
The IMVACC course is self-directed, intense, but rigorous. The course activities involved reading and answering questions from the annotated articles, interactive and meaningful discussions every fortnight and timed online exams at the end of every module. I appreciated the opportunity to access the IMVACC online library. This provided a wide range of literature from high impact journals. I had to learn how to juggle between my young family, a full-time job, and my studies.
As a pharmacist and a patient safety expert, I broadened my knowledge on research and public health. I also gained in-depth knowledge in Vaccine development, vaccine manufacturing, quality control and quality assurance. I am confident that the set of skills and knowledge acquired from the IMVACC program will go a long way to impact lives in my country, Kenya, through active participation and provision of technical support in vaccine implementation initiatives.
My appreciation goes to the University of Lausanne EDCTP, and KEMRI, for providing the opening for this invaluable learning experience. Special thanks to the tutors: Prof. Jean Pierre Kraehenbuhl, Prof. Claude Meric, and Prof. Fabio Candotti for their availability every time I reached out, patience and the ‘push’ that encouraged us to keep the momentum. I’m also immensely grateful to my thesis director, Dr. Ombeva O. Malande for his guidance through my research work.
After spending three years working with swine in a vaccine-oriented multinational company, I decided to take part in the 2019 IMVACC course offered by the Université de Lausanne.
First year was filled with four consecutive modules, starting with basic information about (vaccine) immunology and general vaccines sciences. We were then instructed about vaccine development (II), public health (II) and ultimately project management (III), naturally always linked to vaccines.
In order to complete the course, you also have to write a master thesis, which should be finished inside the time frame defined by the Committee. My interest in adjuvants inspired me to write a review about adjuvants in inactivated registered vaccines for chicken, salmon, and swine. Even if it took me almost 21 months, the knowledge gained in this sector was enormous and allowed me to further compare the differences between the three species when it comes to innate immunity, adapted immunity and adverse reactions.
In summary, the course has helped me to grasp mechanisms in vaccinology I wasn´t aware of, and to establish a network of experts in this field. Claude Méric, Jean-Pierre Kraehenbuhl and last, but certainly not least my master thesis director Dirk Werling have thought me numerous things in a humble and patient manner.
To successfully pass the course, I recommend future students to work regularly, have a precise studying plan and of course, to never give up! If I am allowed me to criticize one aspect, it´s that no aspects of veterinary vaccinology were considered. Consequently, I intend to assist the tutors in elaborating this topic for future classes.
Esther Mumbi Makanga
I was in the class of 2019 during which I got an opportunity to meet and interact with scholars from all over the world. I applaud the dedication of the faculty in supporting the students throughout the course and also their wealth of knowledge and prowess in the field of vaccinology.
The course is administered through an online platform and is very well organized and rigorous.
I appreciate the breadth and depth of the course throughout the whole spectrum from vaccine immunology, vaccine development, and public health implementation. This information became even more relevant in the context of COVID 19 which brought the agenda of vaccine development to the forefront.
I undertook my master’s project and conducted a systematic review to identify factors associated with complete, incomplete, or delayed immunization in Kenyan children 0-24 months. Equity of immunization services is among the main strategic priorities of the immunization agenda 2030. It is important to understand the reasons for missing out on children and closing those gaps.
I am grateful to KEMRI, EDCTP, and the University for the opportunity. I’m also grateful to the faculty (Claude Meric, Jean Pierre Kraehenbuhl, Fabio Candotti )at the school and my supervisor Dr. Eleanor Ochodo for all the guidance and mentorship. I highly recommend the school to anyone interested in pursuing an education in Vaccinology.
After working for several years in a pharmaceutical company focusing on swine vaccines, I wanted to broaden my knowledge in the field of vaccines.
In different modules the IMVACC course provides a great overview on the topic’s basic immunology in relation to vaccines, vaccine science and development, public health and general project management. The information was mostly related with human disease; however, the knowledge could always be linked to animals and especially for me to swine disease and vaccination. As a result, in my master thesis on the topic of swine Influenza (SIV) I was able to combine knowledge from my years of work in the swine industry and the gained knowledge from the course during the two years.
To accomplish the program, it needs your dedication as the workload and time for studying, in my case, next to a full-time employment was not always easy. Being excited in the beginning changed in being overwhelmed at some point. Thus, planning and structuring your time and setting small goals was my method of success during these challenging times. In this regard, I like to thank our tutors Claude Méric and Prof. Jean-Pierre Kraehenbuhl and my thesis tutor thesis tutor Dr. Ivana Knezevic. They were always pushing on studying, discussions, sharing knowledge, and to keep the communication between students high.
In summary being part of this course led by highly professional teachers was highly and getting to know students from different parts of the world was enriching in numerous ways. Thank you for that!
Nobubelo K. Ngandu
The IMVACC course brilliantly provides a holistic overview of the field of vaccinology relative to human diseases. It expanded my understanding of HIV vaccine research and helped me to clearly define my focus in the field of HIV vaccine science going forward.
The whole program was an invaluable experience which broadened my knowledge in vaccinology: From the discovery of the first primitive vaccine strategy against smallpox to the most advanced and challenging vaccination strategies against the fast genetically drifting influenza viruses; and From the basic science of vaccinology to the manufacturing processes, public health and implementation and measurement of effectiveness and impact.
The broad range but detailed examples of vaccine research against different diseases was invaluable for someone who only knew about HIV. The challenging ongoing research to find a vaccine against diseases such as HIV, coronaviruses and Ebola was extremely fascinating and stimulating. The module on project management was a bonus and certainly useful for all other aspects of work life.
Doing the intensive but rewarding coursework in 2019, unknowingly prepared us to have a better understanding of the science of coronaviruses during unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly an understanding of lessons learned from previous MERS and SARS outbreaks for vaccine development.
Being exposed to a different and high-level style of teaching and learning as well as interacting with professionals from different parts of the world and from different professional backgrounds was highly rewarding in many ways.
Besides stepping foot on the corridors of the Swiss Vaccine Institute, it has been a privilege to access a wide range of literature from high impact journals through the university of Lausanne. Thank you!
The Master of Advanced Studies in Vaccinology (IMVACC) was a course I wanted to take, having been involved in basic science to clinical trial implementation. In my two years at Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), working on vaccine implementation research and Clinical Trial Registry portfolios, IMVACC has been a booster to my career trajectory. All thanks to the Research Capacity Development (RCD) Unit of the SAMRC, who provided an opportunity by offering a bursary to be part of the 2019 IMVACC course at the Université de Lausanne. This has been my quest to understand the multifaced area of research, from basic science to implementation science.
As excited as I was, the first year was intense, with loads of course content to grasp while holding full-time employment. I quickly had to develop a strategy for managing all my tasks, thanks to the support from the tutors, Dr Claude Méric, Prof Jean-Pierre Kraehenbuhl and my mentor Prof Charles Wiysonge. Moreover, the great thing about the IMVACC course is that it is well thought through to consider that prospective students are working full-time, and the availability of project management tools provided as one of the modules in the programme. Besides implementing a plan, I dedicated the first 2 hours of my day to study and used my evenings to get through tasks I had planned to achieve on a specific date. I also sacrificed my weekends to get through the course content for the modules.
I was fortunate to have met the 2018 IMVACC cohort, who shared tips on how to get through the IMVACC. During the first meeting in Lausanne, I had an idea about the research project which was a project I was involved in. This has made it easy to execute the research task immediately after completing the modules. The great thing about the research task is that one can choose to take any research, of course, after the committee vets it, that is related to vaccinology. I am interested in vaccine implementation research, where I work on several research projects that seek to understand barriers and facilitators to low childhood vaccination updates in Africa.
In summary, having completed the IMVACC course, I have gained a lot of experience in this complex area of research. I have been awarded further opportunities to attend the prestigious ADVAC (Advanced Course of Vaccinology). Over and above, IMVACC opened a lot of options that complement my other work, which is to conduct systematic reviews and evidence-informed decision making (EIDM), where I am part of the team that develops training modules for the Africa National Advisory Group on Immunisation (NAGI) in collaboration with The Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA) and have been involved in collating vaccine evidence in response to COVID-19 pandemic where I serve on the Ministerial Advisory Group on vaccines workstream 1. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a great opportunity to practice what IMVACC has taught us.
A note to others considering taking the course; I would recommend IMVACC and advise prospective students to dedicate time to the course to get the full benefits IMVACC.
Completing IMVACC has been a challenging but rewarding journey. In addition to the more usual challenges of trying to achieve a work-life balance with post-graduate study, there was a COVID-19 pandemic and rolling electricity power blackouts in my country to navigate. In spite of the aforementioned curve balls, undertaking IMVACC has been worthwhile. The theory I learned, and the thesis have both given me the confidence to work in the field of Vaccinology. The support and guidance of the faculty, my thesis supervisors, my sponsor, and my loved ones have been invaluable in my completing my studies.
IMVACC is a great program and I look forward to the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead as a result of having completed it.
» Being exposed to a different and high-level style of teaching and learning as well as interacting with professionals from different parts of the world and from different professional backgrounds was highly rewarding in many ways. «
Nobubelo K. Ngandu, class 2019
I decided to take part in the 2018 IMVACC course offered by the Université de Lausanne aLer finishing my postgrad in pediatrics and as I was preparing to continue my career as a private pracPPoner in Lausanne.
The first year was a new learning experience for me: provided through an on online plaUorm that permiVed me to have 24h acces to the study material and thus allowing me to organize according to my professional and personal constraints. I parPcularly appreciated the interacPve aspect of the course: a private and a team chat with the tutors and colleagues facilitated the exchanges and allowed us to ask quesPons and to keep up with each others progress. The learning objecPves and requirements were clearly stated; the deadlines for the
on-line exams allowed me to keep up the pace and to remain engaged in my study. Every topic of the modules was interesPng, with a logical layout of the theorePcal and pracPcal aspects.
I chose for my master’s thesis a theme that I personally consider of extreme interest in Vaccinology: Vaccine hesitancy. Though a quesPonnaire addressed to private pracPce pediatricians in French speaking cantons in Switzerland I studied the attiude and strategies of these professionals when confronted with vaccine hesitancy.
The two years of IMVACC allowed me to deepen my understanding in the field, sharpen my criPcal scienPfic reading and provided me addiPonal tools in my private pracPce.
The IMVACC was a great learning opportunity for me and I encourage future students to take advantage of the tutors experPse and availability that I enormously appreciated.
The IMVACC course could not have been more opportune for me. The course allowed me to apply the knowledge I acquired almost immediately. For example, I led the project to vaccinate health care workers against Covid-19. The project management skill I learned in the course helped me lead my team to vaccinate more than 12,000 health care workers in six weeks.
The immunology and vaccine science base knowledge helped me to understand the literature on Covid-19 vaccine development and advise the senior health managers on the correct course of action. Critically, I felt confident enough to refute the anti-vaxxers ludicrous claims about vaccines privately and publicly.
The knowledge I acquired in the course meant I could effectively play a role in the Provincial Covid-19 prevention strategy and the vaccination campaign. The course helped refine my research skills. I feel I have grown as a researcher and can handle vaccine-related research of any complexity.
It was an eye opener to see the content I learned in the regulatory and evaluation of vaccines in real life. I could appreciate all the controversies that unfolded in South Africa and internationally with the licensing of various Covid-19 vaccines.
Two other significant things I have learned in the course are how to implement a blended teaching strategy and read an article effectively. I have implemented those teaching approaches, such as annotated articles in my department and using technology effectively to bridge the distance between the lecturer and students.
I feel I have acquired a set of new skills and matured professionally. IMVACC compliments my primary specialty as a public health medicine specialist!!!
Finally, I must compliment the tutors. They were very supportive, professional and always available to help.
- Thanks to this IMVACC course, I was appointed the Academic Head of Department: Public Health Medicine at my University.
Rodrigo Romero FEREGRINO
My experience studying the IMVACC master program was excellent, I met very interesting and intelligent people from whom I learned a lot. The tutors and experts are always willing to support with patience, experience and knowledge. Interaction with the classmates generates interesting discussions and good team work.
With IMVACC, I learned from the basic sciences of vaccinology and microbiology to the development of projects, including the different steps for the development of vaccines and the public vaccination policies around the world. I also developed and discussed the current problems of vaccinology such as excessive costs, insufficient production and anti-vaccine groups. IMVACC is a demanding program that encourages self-learning, project development and teamwork, with an excellent group of tutors and colleagues always willing to work, support as necessary and be a friend.
The IMVACC has helped me to develop in different areas, improved my knowledge of vaccinology. It helped me for my professional and academic career. In addition, with my thesis project I not only received the diploma from the University of Lausanne but I was also able to generate a public proposal for my country. It also helped to have more international contacts and friends.
I recommend that anyone interested in vaccinology take this master’s degree, which helps to master vaccinology, as it happened to me.
Luc Christian GWOM
The IMVACC program was well organized and all the professors involved were very helpful. I have learnt so many new skills during the program that enabled me to work on a broad range of issues related to vaccines.
For instance, I have acquired knowledge on how to design and manufacture vaccines, how to evaluate their clinical performance and what is needed in order to license these important products for the prevention of infectious diseases. I also had an opportunity to learn about projects/programs management so that I can now lead projects aiming at introducing new vaccines in countries and even manage “Expanded programs on Immunization for countries”. In addition, we were taught the management of communication surrounding vaccines as to efficiently address issues potentially coming from vaccine resistant groups.
The set of skills and knowledge acquired from the IMVACC program has strongly impacted my professional life as the quality of the work I now deliver is both appreciated and highly demanded. I have already used these skills to provide technical support to several countries in Africa through my work with NGOs and WHO. Practically speaking, the exercises that we were asked to complete in the IMVACC modules are almost the same objectives I am generally tasked with in my work. So, I am always confident and comfortable to design/generate tools or workplans that are needed for the management of the projects/activities we should implement.
I was blessed to be part of the first batch of IMVACC students and the second fellow to complete the program. I have been very lucky to have had the best Thesis Director, Prof. Dr. Ivana KNEZEVIC who strongly guided and supported me throughout my Master thesis.
Overall, I would encourage any person willing to study Vaccinology to apply and to devote time to this unique program.
The IMVACC course offered me the perfect opportunity to master my knowledge in vaccinology in order to apply them later into my humanitarian medical practice.
I have enjoyed learning about vaccines-related immunology and microbiology, vaccines research, manufacturing process and policies related to vaccinology. This course offered me a new perspective, totally different from what a pediatrician learnt during the 5 years training. The distance learning’s methodology offers the opportunity to interact with vaccines expert through exercises but also through direct discussion as needed. The face to face meetings in Lausanne also allowed to know each other and collaborated better among us. Teachers were extremely available and the small group of students following the master each year gives the unique opportunity to interact with all of them. I do not remember how many times I had the opportunity to grab my phone, text a message and directly have a “what’s app” call with a teacher to speak about a specific topic from the course. This is what makes the difference with several master courses followed by hundreds of students. I also usually got answers by teachers through email to my questions within the day or the following day. Without following this course, even with greatest motivation, I would only have been able to learn and understand 1/10 of the course by reading articles and textbook related to vaccines. Time management is a key and it is very important to stay organized to follow the course and the structured approach help to be confident and to keeps ourselves within the requested time-frame. The methods student use following the IMVACC course is similar to the one a professional should use while exploring a scientific topic through a great autonomy, collaboration with pairs and literature research. The teachers also encourage students to actively bring new initiative for improving the course and feed its content. It’s a real interactive process.
During the IMVACC course, I have been exposed to all vaccine-related fields from low to high-income countries. The structured guidance offers logical path towards the whole process of vaccines, from research until commercialization, giving a general understanding of the process and the several constrains in the vaccine’s world. Also, the access to the IMVACC online library at any time for medical literature searches was a key and there are always extra-reading references available inside the course which allowed to get our own critical point of view. I remember to have sometimes read dozen extra article to go deeper in a topic as the course brings me interest to go further into the readings. The course also provides annotated articles to help gaining deep systematic analysis and critical understanding of an article.
With extensive links that IMVACC has, I had the opportunity to work during my last 6 months of master course within the “Initiative for vaccine research (IVR)“at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. It offered me a great experience and allowed me to understand and explore deeply one specific vaccine-related topic (micro-array patches for Measles vaccines) and publish as first author in “Vaccines”’ Journal.
The acquired knowledge during this master course allows me to know vaccines-related topic or where to search more. It helps me to better collaborate with other healthcare professionals by understanding their specific points of view and priorities. I can feel now confident when I must explore deeply a new topic, where to search and how to think to make the best of it.