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Research groups

Rachel Tanner


Junior Research Fellow


Tuberculosis continues to pose a serious global health threat, and development of an effective new TB vaccine is severely hampered by the lack of a validated immune correlate of protection.

My research interests are immune correlates and the host immune response to TB vaccination, with a current focus on characterising the humoral response to BCG vaccination. I have also worked extensively on the development of in vitro functional assays that may be applied in preclinical vaccine testing. A successful assay would reduce the number of animals used in challenge experiments, in line with the principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) for the use of animals in scientific procedures. This has included leading a project on a non-human primate mycobacterial growth inhibition assay (MGIA), and a work-package subgroup on assay harmonisation as part of the European Research Infrastructures for Poverty Related Diseases (EURIPRED).

Other projects I work on include controlled human mycobacterial infection using BCG, non-specific effects of BCG vaccination and bovine TB vaccine development.

I obtained an MA in Biological Sciences and DPhil in Clinical Medicine from the University of Oxford, funded by a prize studentship from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). I am currently also a Lecturer in Human Sciences at Wadham College, teaching undergraduate genetics, evolution, physiology and behaviour.

Key Publications

Tanner R, Satti I, Harris SA, O’Shea MK, Cizmeci D, Chomka A, Matsumiya M, Meyer J, Fletcher HA, McShane H. “Tools for assessing the protective efficacy of TB vaccines: in vitro mycobacterial growth inhibition predicts outcome of in vivo mycobacterial infection in humans.” Front Immunol. 2020; 10:2983.

Tanner R, Villarreal-Ramos B, Vordermeier M, McShane H. “The humoral immune response to BCG vaccination.” Front Immunol. 2019; 10:1317.

Tanner R, Smith SG, van Meijgaarden KE, Giannoni F, Wilkie M, Gabriele L, Palma C, Dockrell HM, Ottenhoff THM, McShane H. “Optimisation, standardisation and harmonisation of the direct mycobacterial growth inhibition assay using cryopreserved human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.” J Immunol Methods. 2019.

Tanner R*, Brennan MJ*, Morris S, Scriba TJ, Achkar JM, Zelmer A, Hokey D, Hoft DF, McShane H, Fletcher HA. “The cross-species mycobacterial growth inhibition assay (MGIA) project 2010-2014.” Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017 Sep 5; 24(9).*denotes shared first authorship.

Tanner R, O’Shea MK, White AD, Müller J, Harrington-Kandt R, Matsumiya M, Dennis MJ, Parizotto EA, Harris S, Stylianou E, Naranbhai V, Bettencourt P, Drakesmith H, Sharpe S, Fletcher HA, McShane H. “The influence of haemoglobin and iron on in vitro mycobacterial growth inhibition assays.” Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 3; 7: 43478.

Tanner R, McShane H. “Replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals in tuberculosis vaccine research.” ALTEX. 2017; 34(1): 157-166.

Tanner R, O’Shea MK, Fletcher HA, McShane H. “In vitro mycobacterial growth inhibition assays: a tool for the assessment of protective immunity and evaluation of vaccine efficacy.” Vaccine. 2016 Sep 7; 34(39): 4656-4665.

Tanner R, Kakalacheva K, Miller E, Pathan A, Chalk R, Sander C, Scriba T……Checkley A, McShane H, Fletcher H. “Serum indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase activity is associated with reduced immunogenicity following vaccination with MVA85A.” BMC Infect Dis. 2014 Dec 3; 14(1): 660.