CIDRI-Africa welcomes Associate Professor Elisa Nemes

18 Oct 2022
18 Oct 2022

Elisa was welcomed to our body of Contributing Investigators in the third quarter of 2022. She is an immunologist and Associate Professor within both the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI), and the Department of Pathology, and is also a full member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, all at the University of Cape Town.

Elisa’s current research focuses on basic immunological studies of adaptive and innate immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in HIV infected and uninfected children, adolescents and adults; prospective immune correlates of protection from M. tuberculosis infection and tuberculosis disease; and the development of novel immunodiagnostic assays. She is also involved in the scientific supervision of clinical trials of new tuberculosis vaccines.

Elisa’s previous research has contributed important information on the immunological effects of planned antiretroviral treatment interruption in healthy people living with HIV, providing evidence that such interruptions could be used to reduce toxicity associated with chronic treatment. She has been centrally involved in clinical trials of both new and existing TB vaccines which have provided in-depth data on induction and modulation of immunological memory, and identification of prospective biomarkers of risk of TB disease. In addition to characterising risk of future TB disease, she has also contributed to the development of TB immunodiagnostics and assays for monitoring the state of the immune system.

She has been involved in steering global TB vaccine development efforts, having contributed to both the “Global Roadmap for the Research and Development of New Tuberculosis Vaccines” (2020) and the “Global Roadmap for the Research and Development of New Tuberculosis Vaccines for people living with HIV” (2021). She is currently a member of the “IMPAACT TB vaccine working group” (National Institutes of Health), “TB immune correlates” Leadership Team and Scientific Advisory Committee (Gates Medical Research Institute), and co-chair of the “Innate immunity community” for the Collaboration for TB Vaccine Discovery (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

Elisa holds an MSc and PhD from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. Following completion of her PhD, Elisa worked as a research associate and then as a post-doctoral scientist in Cameroon, under an Italian Cooperation Program to support the start-up of research projects and to reinforce technology transfer at Chantal Biya International Reference Centre for Research on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Management (CIRCB). Elisa then joined SATVI as post-doctoral fellow in 2011.