Claire J.P. Boog

Claire Boog trained as a Medical Biologist (University of Amsterdam, 1983). In 1984, her interest for research in immunology lead her to work with Prof.dr. Cees Melief at the Central Lab. of Blood Transfusion Service (CLB) and the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. (Ph.D. at the faculty of Medicine Leiden University in 1988, promotor Prof. dr. J.J. van Rood). During this time she was involved in the work at the understanding of antigen presentation especially how to induce an adaptive immune response against weak antigens using dendritic cells.
In 1988, she joined the Department of Immunology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, of the University of Utrecht as researcher and staff member. Research was aimed at the understanding of the mechanisms of the induction of the immune responses against several viral and bacterial pathogens in different hosts (animals and humans). In 1994, she became head of the Department of Transplantation Immunology at the CLB, in Amsterdam. The research was not only directed at the modulation of the immune response against transplantation- but also auto-antigens. In 1999 she became head of the department of the Immunology of the Laboratory of Vaccine Research of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM), in Bilthoven. During this period, most of her research activities were focused on defining immunological correlates of protection on the T and B cell level after natural infection and vaccination. Unravelling the mechanisms of induction of an optimal primary as long-lasting memory immune responses is important in case of existing as well as design of future vaccines. In 2003 became Head of the Department of Vaccine Research of the Netherlands Vaccine Institute (NVI), in Bilthoven. The NVI is a government agency. Since 2003 she is also manager of the Strategic Vaccine Research Program (SVOP) of the NVI. The role of the SVOP manager is to provide both science and industrial focus to collaborating team and act as a catalyst to focus towards useful applications in the vaccine field. The program is meant to form a bridge between fundamental scientist in the field of microbiology, immunology, and vaccinology from (inter)national universities, biotech companies and/or vaccine institutes and the Netherlands Vaccine Institute (NVI). Some illustrations of current research projects in the SVOP :
1) Adaptive immunity research: effective vaccines result in activation of a specific defence system. There are biological parameters of this specific defence system that can be measured after natural infection and after vaccination. These so-called ‘correlates of protection’ are predictive of the degree of protection against particular pathogens and are very important for assessing the efficacy of vaccines.This is all aimed at the field of infections with meningococci, RSV, B. pertussis, M. tuberculosis and Influenza.
2) Innate immunity research: There is therefore a great need for new generations of adjuvants that create an optimal protective immune response, but are also acceptable with regard to the side effects. Also more has become known about the role of the dendritic cells, Toll-like receptors (TLR), C-type lectins and other components involved in the innate immune system. It is becoming possible to search specifically for adjuvants that control the immune system in the required direction. As many of these components are known to work as adjuvants, so this opens the way to a rational design of novel adjuvants.
3) Improved vaccines: At the moment there is a TB vaccine, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) a not-dangerous family member of M. tuberculosis, that gives insufficient protection. It is clear is that both BCG and M. tuberculosis suppress the immune response of the host. We intend to make a better vaccine for tuberculosis by constructing mutant BCG strains that are less immunosuppressive.
4) Improving process development: The challenges of vaccine development are not limited to identification of suitable antigens, adjuvants and delivery methods, but include regulatory, technical and manufacturing hurdles in translating a vaccine candidate to the clinic. Process development is the technological foundation that underlies the manufacture of new vaccines. To innovate besides common ELISA and Western Blotting techniques, advanced genomics and proteomics tools are developed to determine critical parameters during the development process.
In 2007 she became Deputy Scientific Director of the NVI and also Professor at the department Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht.
In 2009 she was appointed Scientific Director of the NVI. She is author or co-author of ~100 publications and is (or was) a member of several national scientific boards.