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Rachel Tanner

Associate Professor


I obtained an MA in Biological Sciences and DPhil in Clinical Medicine from the University of Oxford. I am currently a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, a Lecturer in Human Sciences at Wadham College, and Access and Outreach Officer for the Institute of Human Sciences.

Tuberculosis continues to pose a serious global health threat, but 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 and identifying novel target antigens for subunit vaccine candidates. 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 infection 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 the development of a controlled human mycobacterial infection model, non-specific effects of BCG vaccination and bovine TB vaccine development. I have received funding from the UKRI-GCRF network VALIDATE, the NC3Rs, UFAW and RSTMH.

In 2017 I received the TB Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) Young Scientist Award, in 2018 I received a Collaboration for TB Vaccine Discovery (CTVD) Early Career Scientist Award, and in 2019 I was awarded the 'Women of the Future' Award for Science.

I am on the Editorial Board for Scientific Reports, and sit on several committees including the British Society for Immunology Vaccine Affinity Group, the Acid Fast Club and Oxford University Animal Care and Ethical Review 3Rs subcommittee.

Key Publications

Tanner R et al. “A non-human primate in vitro functional assay for the early evaluation of TB vaccine candidates.” NPJ Vaccines. 2021; 6(3): 1-11.

Tanner R et al. "The in vitro direct mycobacterial growth inhibition assay (MGIA) for the early evaluation of TB vaccine candidates and assessment of protective immunity: a protocol for non-human primate cells." F1000 Research. 2021, 10:257.

Tanner R et al. “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 et al. “The humoral immune response to BCG vaccination.” Front Immunol. 2019; 10:1317.

Tanner R et al. “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* et al. “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 et al. “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 et al. “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 et al. “Serum indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase activity is associated with reduced immunogenicity following vaccination with MVA85A.” BMC Infect Dis. 2014 Dec 3; 14(1): 660.

Recent publications

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