Vaccine expert Helen Petousis-Harris shortlisted for global award

Vaccine expert Helen Petousis-Harris is in the running for an award for researchers tackling the world’s biggest problems.

Associate Professor Petousis-Harris

She’s been shortlisted for the 2021 Nature Research Award for Driving Global Impact for her work on vaccine safety and effectiveness.

Prominent in New Zealand’s pandemic response, Associate Professor Petousis-Harris helped to set up an international network for monitoring the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in 2019.

Watching over Covid-19 vaccines is now a key task for the Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN), which attracted funding from the U.S. government. She’s co-director of the network, which is run by UniServices out of the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences at the University of Auckland.

Collaboration through the network will help scientists to assess rare vaccine side-effects by looking at populations as large as 300 million.

Dr Petousis-Harris’s achievements have included a “seminal” finding that a meningitis vaccine could offer protection against gonorrhoea, and roles on international advisory groups, according to a profile for the award shortlist.

Eight early-career researchers from around the world are in the running for the award for tackling challenges such as pollution, nutrition problems and biodiversity loss. The award is from research publisher Springer Nature, and the winner will be announced in November.

At the university, Dr Petousis-Harris leads courses including `Epidemics: Black Death to Bioterrorism.’

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