Prof Mariagrazia Pizza
Mariagrazia has worked as scientist and project leader on different bacterial vaccine projects. She has contributed to the design and development of nontoxic derivatives of pertussis toxin, E.coli heat-labile toxin and cholera toxin, by genetic engineering. The research on pertussis led to the discovery of a genetically detoxified pertussis toxin, devoid of toxicity but highly immunogenic, which has been the basis of a new vaccine against pertussis, licensed for immunization in infants. The new genetically detoxified derivatives of heat labile E. coli toxin (LT) and cholera toxin were shown to be powerful vaccine antigens and adjuvants. More recently, she has contributed to the discovery and licensure of a vaccine against Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup B, based on the innovative approach of “reverse vaccinology”. The new MenB vaccine has recently been licensed for use in adolescents and infants in 38 countries worldwide. During her career she has received many scientific awards, is member of EMBO, of the European Academy of Microbiology, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and Vice President of IUMS. She is co-author of over 180 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and over 150 patents.