Anita van der Biggelaar is trained as an immunologist and epidemiologist and has always worked in the fields of immuno-epidemiology (‘applied immunology’), infectious diseases and vaccinology.
Her MSc (1996, with distinction) and Ph.D. (2002, with distinction) were both in the field of immuno-parasitology (helminths), involving field trials in Indonesia and Gabon (Central Africa).
After a 2-year postdoc in the Netherlands where Anita skilled her epidemiology and conducted field studies in Ghana, she joined the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in 2005 where she worked with Professors Patrick Holt, Deborah Lehmann and Peter Richmond, and Dr. William Pomat and colleagues from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNG IMR) on a neonatal pneumococcal conjugate vaccination trial. In 2007 Anita was awarded an NHMRC R.D Wright Biomedical Career Development Award to initiate a program of work on early life immune development in adverse versus affluent settings.
Triggered by her interest for vaccines, Anita moved back to the Netherlands late 2010 to work for a biopharmaceutical vaccine company (2011-13) (Crucell; soon acquired by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson), where she was appointed Associate Director Bacterial Vaccines Strategy and External Innovation, providing scientific and strategic support to set up and manage a new Bacterial Vaccines R&D Department, in this time acquiring valuable knowledge on vaccine development and developing professional skills.
In February 2014 Anita returned to the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth to establish and run the Wesfarmers Centre of Vaccines & Infectious Diseases.
She returned to a full-time research position in September 2016 with the aim of establishing a leading transformational research program on maternal and early life infections and immunizations that makes a contribution to reducing the burden and consequences of serious infections in pregnant women and young infants in less-privileged countries and communities in the world.
Anita van der Biggelaar is part of the scientific team of the long-term partnership between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and HVP, the Human Immunomics Initiative.