Skip Navigation

Center for Immunization Research

Left Background

2014 CIR NewsWorld Vaccine Congress 2014 - WINNER : Best Academic Research Team

Dr. Anna P. Durbin,  Associate Professor with the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the lead Investigator for Dengue vaccine clincal trials.

The Dengue Program at the Center for Immunization Research, headed by Dr. Anna Durbin, was named "Best Academic Research Team" at the 2014 World Vaccine Congress.

2013 CIR News

NIH-developed candidate Dengue vaccine shows promise in early-stage trial

Dr. Anna P. Durbin,  Associate Professor, at the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is the lead Investigator for Dengue vaccine clincal trials.

A candidate dengue vaccine developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health has been found to be safe and to stimulate a strong immune response in most vaccine recipients, according to results from an early-stage clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH. The trial results appeared in the January 17 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Dengue fever, prevalent in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world, is caused by any of four related viruses — DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4 — that are transmitted to humans by Aedes mosquitoes. The World Health Organization estimates that every year, 50 million to 100 million cases of dengue occur worldwide, resulting in 500,000 hospitalizations of patients with severe disease, many of them in children.

Infection with one dengue virus results in immunity to that specific virus but not to the other three. Research shows that the likelihood of severe disease increases when a person is subsequently infected with a different dengue virus. This observation suggests that the ideal dengue vaccine would be tetravalent—that is, protective against all four dengue viruses.

“The global burden of dengue is enormous – and it is growing,” said NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “We are cautiously optimistic about these recent clinical trial results with this candidate tetravalent vaccine developed at NIAID; however, much more work still needs to be done.”

The Phase I clinical trial, launched in July 2010 and led by principal investigator Anna Durbin, M.D., at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, tested a single dose of each of four versions of the investigational dengue vaccine TetraVax-DV. The vaccine was developed by scientists in NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases. It is a live-attenuated vaccine, which means that the viruses it contains are weakened enough such that they do not cause illness but still can induce an immune response. Each of the four vaccines tested included different mixtures of components designed to protect against all four dengue viruses.

The Phase I study was conducted in Baltimore; Burlington, Vt.; and Washington, D.C. The final study analysis included 112 healthy men and women ages 18 to 50 years who had not previously been exposed to dengue or related viruses such as West Nile virus and yellow fever virus.

 Read the full article:

 2012 CIR News

Johns Hopkins' Faculty Weigh In On Ethics of H5N1 Dual-Use Research, Publishing and Oversight

Dr. Ruth A. Karron, Professor and Director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is published in the online Policy Forum of the journal Science. The article titled, "The obligation to prevent the next dual-use controversy," covers the recent debates over H5N1 experiments of potential dual use research.

In a commentary on the biosecurity controversy surrounding publication of bird flu research details, a bioethicist and a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins reaffirm that "all scientists have an affirmative ethical obligation to avoid contributing to the advancement of biowarfare and bioterrorism," but that there are not sufficient structures in place to evaluate potential societal risks. Authors Ruth R. Faden, Ph.D., and Ruth A. Karron, M.D., say "adequate assessment of those risks requires prospective review by an international body with a range of expertise, including in this case influenza virology and biosecurity."

Read the full article in the journal Science:

2011 CIR News

Norovirus Vaccine Against Experimental Human Norwalk Virus Illness

Clayton D. Harro, MD, ScM, Center for Immunization Research, directs the clinical development and evaluation of enteric vaccines and challenge models for bacterial and viral pathogens associated with infectious diarrhea.

The article was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Noroviruses cause epidemic and sporadic acute gastroentritis. No vaccine is available to prevent norovirus illness or infection.


We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial to assess the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of an investigational, intranasally delivered norovirus viruslike particle (VLP) vaccine (with chitosan and monophosphoryl lipid A as adjuvants) to prevent acute viral gastroenteritis after challenge with a homologous viral strain, Norwalk virus (genotype GI.1). Healthy adults 18 to 50 years of age received two doses of either vaccine or placebo and were subsequently inoculated with Norwalk virus and monitored for infection and gastroenteritis symptoms.


Ninety-eight persons were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive vaccine (50 participants) or placebo (48 participants), and 90 received both doses (47 participants in the vaccine group and 43 in the placebo group). The most commonly reported symptoms after vaccination were nasal stuffiness, nasal discharge, and sneezing. Adverse events occurred with similar frequency among vaccine and placebo recipients. A Norwalk virus–specific IgA seroresponse (defined as an increase by a factor of 4 in serum antibody levels) was detected in 70% of vaccine recipients. Seventy-seven of 84 participants inoculated with Norwalk virus were included in the per-protocol analysis. Vaccination significantly reduced the frequencies of Norwalk virus gastroenteritis (occurring in 69% of placebo recipients vs. 37% of vaccine recipients, P = 0.006) and Norwalk virus infection (82% of placebo recipients vs. 61% of vaccine recipients, P=0.05).


This norovirus VLP vaccine provides protection against illness and infection after challenge with a homologous virus. (Funded by LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals and the National Institutes of Health; number.

(Funded by LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals and the National Institutes of Health; number, NCT00973284.)

Read the full article in the ,New England Journal of Medicine.  

 2010 CIR News

The "Do Unto Others" Malaria Vaccine

Anna P. Durbin, MD, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Immunization Research, was quoted in Science magazine regarding the need for a malaria vaccine that would use humans to generate antibodies.

by Gretchen VogelIt used to sound like a far-out idea: a malaria vaccine that would use humans to generate antibodies and deliver them to mosquitoes, with the aim of preventing the insects from spreading the disease. Until recently, such transmission-blocking vaccines (TBVs) had received scant attention. But after Bill and Melinda Gates called for a global effort to eradicate malaria (Science, 7 December 2007, p. 1544), TBVs have moved to center stage in malaria vaccine research (see p. 843).With money no longer the limiting factor, progress is accelerating: A half-dozen TBVs could have a shot at clinical trials sometime in the next 5 years, researchers say. Even so, the scientific and social hurdles remain daunting. Key among them is whether  people can be persuaded to get a vaccination that doesn't prevent them from getting sick but instead protects family and neighbors from getting infected. That also raises the bar for an extremely safe vaccine.

Initial results showed that some recipients produced antibodies that could block 90% of oocyst development in mosquitoes. But severe reactions in two participants stopped the trial. The combination of adjuvant and antigen was apparently too much for some immune systems, says Anna Durbin, a vaccine expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who coordinated the trial. Several groups are continuing work on P25 and the related P28, however, hoping that better folding might produce a potent response without new adjuvants.

Read more in the journal  Science: 14 May 2010:
Vol. 328. no. 5980, pp. 847 - 848
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5980.847
Science. ISSN 0036-8075 (print), 1095-9203 (online)

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to Test  H1N1 Influenza Vaccine

The Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been selected by CSL Biotherapies of Australia as the lead site to conduct tests for a vaccine against the new H1N1 influenza. The trial will vaccinate 1,300 adults from sites across the United States and is one of the largest H1N1 vaccine trials currently being conducted. The trial began in August 2009 at the Center for Immunization Research; enrolling 55 volunteers.Kawsar Talaat, MD, principal investigator of the study and assistant scientist in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. said that “the H1N1 pandemic has already had a significant impact on health and society in general. Those most at risk include children, young adults and pregnant women, as well as people with underlying medical conditions. A safe, effective vaccine to protect those at highest risk is a public health priority.”The trial, a Phase II study, will measure the safety of an immune response to CSL’s H1N1 flu vaccine at three separate dosing levels. Two groups of participants will be enrolled in the trial: adults 18 to 64 and adults older than 65. Both groups will receive two injections of vaccine three weeks apart. Researchers will sample the participant’s blood at 3 and 6 weeks after the first vaccination to check for antibodies for H1N1, which indicate an immune response to the vaccine. Participants will also keep a diary of any symptoms or reactions following vaccination.“This trial will help assess the safety of this new H1N1 vaccine, and determine how well it evokes an immune response. By looking at the immune response to several different doses of H1N1 vaccine, this trial will help to determine the best dose to use in vaccination campaigns,” said Ruth Karron, MD, co-principal investigator of the vaccine study and professor and director of the Center for Immunization Research, and the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Initiative.Watch Video

Center for Immunization Research