Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group (VIRGo)

VIRGo has been in place for over 20 years and has the largest and longest standing child and adolescent vaccine population research and clinical trials program in Australia. The group is one of the leading sites internationally. VIRGo is a collaboration between the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Vaccine and immunisation research is conducted in three complementary programs: clinical trials, epidemiology and social research in vaccine hesistancy. The group’s work in these programs provides policy support regarding best use of vaccines in national schedules.

Vaccine clinical trials: These explore the effectiveness, antibody responses, and safety of new vaccines in standard or new schedules. In addition to infants, children and adolescents, our studies also include adults for specific conditions of interest such as influenza and especially pandemic influenza.

Population epidemiology and virus discovery: This research area assesses the incidence and population susceptibility of potentially vaccine preventable diseases, in partnership with molecular virologists searching for as yet undescribed viruses that cause common respiratory illnesses.

Vaccine hesitancy: This involves studying factors that determine decision-making by clients and health professionals in relation to vaccine use and acceptance.

Find out more about the team's work in the video below:

Group Leaders: 
Group Members: 
Marita Kefford
Role: 
Research Manager
Dr Nicole Rose
Role: 
Study Doctor
Dr Rowena Christiansen
Role: 
Study Doctor
Dr Naomi Clarke
Role: 
Study Doctor
Jane Ryrie
Role: 
Research Nurse
Janet Briggs
Role: 
Research Nurse
Clare Brophy
Role: 
Research Nurse
Annmarie McEvoy
Role: 
Research Nurse
Marie West
Role: 
Research Nurse
Dr Adam Parslow
Role: 
Vaccine Logistics Research Assistant
Jacinta O'Keefe
Role: 
Vaccine Logistics Research Assistant
Mairead Phelan
Role: 
Research Assistant
Judith Spotswood
Role: 
Phlebotomist
Bernie McCudden
Role: 
Phlebotomist

FluMum
A prospective cohort study of mother-infant pairs assessing the effectiveness of maternal influenza vaccination in prevention of influenza in early infancy.

Immunogenicity and safety study of 1 and 2 doses of GSK Biologicals’ meningococcal vaccine GSK134612 in toddlers, persistence up to five years after vaccination and co-administration with Pfizer's pneumococcal vaccine Prevenar 13™ (GSK Biologicals)

A Phase III, observer-blind, randomized, controlled, multicentre study to evaluate the safety of a trivalent subunit influenza vaccine produced either in mammalian cell culture or in embryonated chicken eggs (Fluvirin®), in healthy children and adolescents four to 17 years of age (Novartis Vaccines)

Persistence of immunity and response to a booster dose of DTPa or dTpa vaccine at 18 months old following acellular pertussis vaccine given at birth in healthy infants (NHMRC and GSK Biologicals)

Development of New Strategies for Targeting Vaccine Hesitant Parents in Victoria – a Vaccine Education and Communication Training program for Paediatricians.

Parent Immunisation Needs and Attitudes Surveys - Community and Antenatal (PINA-C and PINA-A)

IN DEVELOPMENT: Meningococcal carriage in Australian adolescents; Safety and Immunogenicity of pertussis vaccination in pregnancy

Collaborations: 
  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, University of Sydney
  • Telethon Kids Institute
  • Children’s Hospitals in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
  • Menzies Institute, Charles Darwin University, Darwin