These volunteers are making short videos on TikTok and Instagram to explain their part in the vaccine effort.
Dr Asher Williams is a Trinidad & Tobago National Scholar, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, with a PhD. in Chemical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The goal of her current research is to simplify vaccine manufacturing in low-income countries by creating a cell-free synthetic biology platform for the biosynthesis of conjugate vaccines. For now, she is focused on vaccines against emerging pathogens.
Asher was named a Class of 2020 Changemaker at RPI and earned a B.Sc. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at New York University in 2015, then worked as a NASA bioengineering research intern.
Asher was awarded an RPI Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship and during her graduate career she mentored several graduate and undergraduate students, presented at research conferences, and published over 10 co-authored papers in peer-reviewed journals, with a patent pending. Additionally, she served as Vice President of the Black Graduate Students Association at RPI, working on initiatives to increase the recruitment and retention of minority students in graduate education.
Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Asher loves cooking and working out.
Leticia Monin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Francis Crick Institute, in London. Her research focuses on the development of the immune system and immune mechanisms controlling diseases (including Covid-19) at mucosal sites. Leticia is originally from Uruguay, where she studied for her BSc in Biochemistry and her MSc in Molecular and Cell Biology. She then moved to the University of Pittsburgh, USA, where she received her PhD in Immunology.
At the onset of the pandemic, Leticia and many of her colleagues reoriented their work to contribute to the understanding of Covid-19. Specifically, she has been involved in studies geared at understanding the differences in the immune response in people affected with severe vs. mild/asymptomatic Covid-19. More recently, she has participated in studies to characterise the response to both infection and SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in cancer patients.
Leticia loves the outdoors and being active (particularly HIIT and yoga). She is also an avid reader and has a strange fascination with horror films. She is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Catalan.
Dr Federica Cappuccini is a postdoctoral research scientist at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford. Since the beginning of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine clinical trials in April 2020, Federica has been a part-time member of the COVID-19 team processing and testing blood samples collected from volunteers in the UK. In particular, the team is looking at the magnitude and durability of cellular responses as a read out of vaccine immunogenicity. Federica has recently become a full-time member of the COVID-19 team as one of the senior immunologists in the paediatric study of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine.
Federica started working at the Jenner Institute in 2013 in the Prostate Cancer Vaccine group and has been initially responsible for the preclinical experimentation of candidate prostate cancer vaccines administered as monotherapy or in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. Previously, Federica graduated at Roma Tre University in Rome with a project on rotavirus infectivity and neutralisation, aiming at developing a new therapeutic intervention against human rotavirus infections targeting a capsid viral protein. She then completed my doctoral studies at the Uniklinikum Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, where she investigated the immune modulation and pathogenesis of radiation induced lung tissue damage in order to identify therapeutic targets for treatment or prevention of radiation related side effects.
As an Italian, Federica enjoys good food, wine and coffee. She loves travelling and cherishes moments spent with friends, be it for a meal out, a board game night, a walk in the park or a squash match. She also enjoys going to the gym and running, and hopefully will complete a marathon and a sprint triathlon in 2021!
Gustavo leads the team that is developing a Brazilian vaccine for Covid-19 at the University of Sao Paulo. His work also focuses on vaccines for the Chikungunya and Zika viruses. His research centres on the use of “virus-like particles”, which was the focus of his postdoctoral studies at the universities of Oxford in the UK and Bern in Switzerland.
Nathan Peiffer-Smadja is a physician specialised in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, a fellow of the French Society of Infectious Diseases, a PhD candidate in Public Health and a Honorary Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial College London. He is currently living in France and has worked on the Covid-19 Vaccine for over 6 months.
Dr. Soha Albayat is Head of Vaccination at Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, and national lead for the Covid-19 track and trace team. Soha is also on the vaccination planning committee and regularly follows up with covid-19 vaccine developers and manufacturers to stay updated on the progress of trials.
Dr Simone Richardson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Antibody Immunity Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Simone’s work is focused on understanding how antibody function contributes to protection against COVID-19. Her team is focused particularly on how these can be used to protect HIV infected individuals from COVID-19. They are currently measuring these in South African vaccines to better understand which functions of antibodies are associated with vaccine protection.
Simone is a 2020 L’Oreal UNESCO postdoctoral fellow awarded for her work on COVID-19, and, an early career fellow of both the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery. She holds a diploma in science communication from Stellenbosch University and is passionate about lending her voice to science.
Outside of work, Simone loves to cartoon, hike and read manga and historical non-fiction – never at the same time. She often can be caught being a total kid and building some form of Lego or annoying her Yorkshire Terrier.
Dr Partha Kar is a Consultant and National Specialty Advisor, Diabetes, NHS UK. Partha is part of the national team that undertook the data analysis around Covid-19, which subsequently contributed to vaccine prioritisation via JCVI, as well as risk tools such as Q-COVID risk tool developed by Oxford. Partha has also helped in developing information portals and language specific videos to help increase uptake of Covid-19 vaccines, by working with colleagues across the UK.
Partha is involved in diabetes care, and championing technology access in diabetes (Libre, CGM in Type 1 Diabetes). He has led work on interactions between HCPs and patients (“Language Matters”), pioneered online self-management programmes for diabetes, as well as being co-creator of TAD (Talking About Diabetes) and Type 1 Diabetes comic (Volume 1, 2 and 3). Partha is an avid user of social media to engage with patients and was recognised as a “Social media Pioneer” by HSJ in 2014. He also writes a monthly blog for the BMJ, has a personal blog (“Sugar and Spice: Wish all things were nice”) and a podcast (“Sweet Talking”). Partha was recently awarded an OBE for “services to Diabetes care”.
A huge fan of movies and an avid reader of comic books, Partha’s favourite food is Biriyani, but generally any good food, with a partiality towards Vietnamese too! He speaks English, Bengali and Hindi. Loves cricket and holidays where you do nothing.
Follow the people working on all aspects of science that will make these coronavirus vaccines safe and effective
Team Halo is an effort to support and celebrate the inspiring collaboration between scientists all over the world to help us end this pandemic with safe and effective vaccines.
The ‘halo’ represents the ring of connected science that circles the globe.
All participation is voluntary. If you’re involved in the vaccine search and would like to be listed on this site, please get in touch.
Team Halo was established as part of the United Nations Verified Initiative in partnership with The Vaccine Confidence Project at the University of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It is proud to collaborate with the Vaccine Alliance and GAVI. Support is provided by Luminate and IKEA Foundation.