Challenging vaccine dogma: Young doctor receives the Lundbeck Foundation Research Prize for Young Scientists

Ane B. Fisker, doctor and senior researcher at the Danish National Serum Institute (SSI) and associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark, is awarded the 2018 Lundbeck Foundation Research Prize for Young Scientists.

Her aim is to revolutionise medical science’s view on the effect of vaccines and vitamin supplements given to children in low-income countries. Among other things, her research indicates that the WHO’s recommendation to give A vitamin together with vaccines does not have the presumed beneficial effect on mortality. And her study is one of the main reasons why the world is currently discussing whether the recommendation should be withdrawn altogether.

This is why 39-year-old doctor and senior researcher, Ane B. Fisker, is receiving the 2018 Lundbeck Foundation Research Prize for Young Scientists.

“Many health policies are based on assumptions about effects rather than actual data. Our research shows that this is inadequate. By testing these assumptions in the real world, we could see that children’s vaccines had a greater impact on general health than we’d suspected – and they also affect the risk of many other diseases. Besides this, we observed that their effect depends on many other factors, such as the child’s gender and whether it receives other interventions at the same time, for instance vitamin A. This has provided us with new knowledge about vaccines, vitamins and the immune system which could have far-reaching consequences,” says Ane B. Fisker.

One of the focal points of Ane’s research is the implementation and effect of vaccines and vitamin A supplements in low income countries, and she is investigating their effect on mortality and morbidity. Ane began her research career while studying, and she spent a research year with the Bandim Health Project in Guinea-Bissau.

Since then, she has coordinated a major study of early measles vaccine in Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso, and she has collaborated with prestigious institutions such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. In the meantime, Ane gained a PhD in Health Sciences from Aarhus University, and her work is expected to result in a doctoral thesis within the next few years.

Research makes a difference
Ane’s experience, talent and ambition put her in a unique position to assess the effect of new vaccine initiatives:

“Ane has the ability to challenge established dogma – and not least the will and courage to explore whether vaccines and health recommendations actually have the presumed effect. Ane’s research makes a distinct difference because it shows how we can get things fundamentally wrong and how we need to view our health interventions from a completely new angle,” says Kim Krogsgaard, Head of Prizes at the Lundbeck Foundation.

The prize is accompanied by a monetary award of DKK 300,000.

For further details please contact:

Kim Krogsgaard, Head of Prizes at the Lundbeck Foundation, tel. +45 2014 8384 or kk@lundbeckfonden.com

Ane B. Fisker, senior researcher with the Bandim Health Project, SSI, abf@ssi.dk

Pernille Thorborg Jasper, Media Relations Manager at the Lundbeck Foundation, tel. +45 2118 9132 or ptj@lundbeckfonden.com

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