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Anita Milicic

Dr


Vaccine Formulation Group Leader

  • Head of the VFI-Oxford Adjuvant Programme
  • Jenner Institute Lead for Public Engagement

I studied Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, before completing MSc in Genetics and DPhil in Immunology at the University of Oxford, UK. In 2009 I joined the Jenner Institute in Oxford as the Head of the Adjuvant Facility. I now lead the Vaccine Formulation Group, focusing on vaccine adjuvant development in the context of malaria vaccines, with a key emphasis on the adjuvant mechanism of action. Additionally, in collaboration with the Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBME), we are developing new microfluidics-based vaccine encapsulation technologies for controlled vaccine release. The aim is to achieve single-dose immunisation that could replace the standard prime-boost approach: the booster vaccine is encapsulated into microcapsules and delivered together with the prime, for delayed release within the body.

My overall interest is in the mechanisms of immune activation, in particular the interplay between the innate and the adaptive immunity. Vaccine development, with a focus on vaccine adjuvants, provides the ideal base for such studies. My current research includes exploring the mechanism of action of adjuvanted vaccines using different vaccine platforms and clinically-compatible adjuvants developed by the Vaccine Formulation Institute (VFI) in Geneva.  

Following a long-standing collaboration with the VFI, in late 2019 we initiated the VFI-Oxford Adjuvant Programme of research with three primary aims: a) understand the types of responses induced by different clinically-compatible adjuvants, b) characterise the adjuvant immunogenicity profiles using clinically relevant antigens and c) assess vaccine efficacy through challenge studies in pre-clinical models of disease. These questions are being addressed through spatio-temporal studies of the innate and adaptive immune responses to adjuvanted vaccines, using an established mouse model of malaria.

Together with Prof. Mark Coles (https://www.kennedy.ox.ac.uk/team/mark-coles) and Dr Calliope Dendrou (https://www.well.ox.ac.uk/research/research-groups/dendrou-group), and with the support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, we are studying the initial events in adjuvant-induced inflammation ex vivo. Using adjuvant-stimulated human secondary lymphatic tissue, in combination with single cell transcriptomics and hyperplexed imaging, we aim to create a high-resolution map of the early innate immune responses to clinically relevant vaccine adjuvants.

I am a Core Group member and Working Group leader in the EU COST Action Programme ENOVA (European Network of Vaccine Adjuvants; https://www.enova-adjuvant.eu/). I am also the Jenner Institute lead for Public Engagement with Research.

Recent publications

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