Presenter: Prof Juliet Pulliam (SACEMA)
Title: Assessing designs for vaccine efficacy trials during epidemics of severe disease
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa ignited impassioned debate regarding the ethics of vaccine efficacy trials during the widespread epidemic of a highly fatal pathogen. One side argued that vaccines should be made available to those at high risk as soon as possible after the successful conclusion of Phase II safety trials, because this approach had the potential to save the most lives, while others argued that Phase III clinical trials to evaluate vaccine efficacy were necessary, because deployment of an untested (and therefore potentially ineffective) vaccine would risk wasting a vast amount of resources. Using the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as a case study, I'll describe how simulation can be used to compare potential study designs for vaccine efficacy trials and how quantitative approaches can be used to better understand the trade-offs between the scientific utility of a vaccine trial and the risk to trial participants.
Information about the presenter:
Prof. Juliet Pulliam is Director of SACEMA and an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Stellenbosch University. Prior to moving to SACEMA in July 2016, she spent five years as a faculty member at the University of Florida, where she was also the inaugural director of the International Clinics on Infectious Disease Dynamics and Data (ICI3D) Program from 2012-2016. Juliet received a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University in 2007, after which she spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Disease Ecology at Emory University and three years as a Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) Program Fellow at the US National Institute of Health’s Fogarty International Center. Her research focuses on quantitative approaches to infectious disease epidemiology, particularly zoonotic and vector-borne infections in resource-limited settings.