Anita van den Biggelaar, PhD, is trained as an immunologist and epidemiologist and has always worked in the fields of immunoepidemiology (“applied immunology”), infectious diseases, and vaccinology.
Her MSc (1996, with distinction) and PhD (2002, with distinction) were both in the field of immunoparasitology (helminths), involving field trials in Indonesia and Gabon (Central Africa).
After a two-year postdoc in the Netherlands, where she skilled her epidemiology and conducted field studies in Ghana, van den Biggelaar 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, van den Biggelaar 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 in vaccines, van den Biggelaar 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 of 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, van den Biggelaar 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.