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Dr. Béhazine Combadiere

INSERM research director, co-Director of the Centre for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital, Paris, France

Dr. Combadiere’s webpage
Research Interests: Vaccination 50 years from now

From “variolation” to the “Pasteur revolution”, vaccination is a method that focuses on stimulating the body’s natural defenses (the immune system) through contact with a weakened form or part of an infectious agent (bacteria, virus, parasite, toxin, etc.), in order to induce protection against infectious diseases and certain cancers. Modern immunology has made it possible to propose new strategies either for the design of a vaccine or for its administration. Some examples of this are DNA vaccines, virosomes, “virus-like particles” and viral vectors, conjugates and “RNA”. Moreover, the discovery of new cells that play a role in immunity known as dendritic cells, and their presence in strategic tissues for immune system defense such as skin, nasal and vaginal mucous membranes and the intestines has made it possible to envisage alternative vaccination sites. This has led to the emergence of some important aspects of current “vaccinology”: routes of administration and adjuvants.


The diverse nature of populations – in terms of age, associated risk factors, (obesity, pregnancy, autoimmune diseases), environment, an individual’s immune history (infection,vaccination) – favors vaccination tailored to the population and accordingly a search for thebest predictive indicators as to its efficacy and innocuousness through a multidisciplinaryapproach.


According to the World Health Organization, vaccination saves life of 2 million people each year worldwide and could save even more lives in the future. Emerging diseases that are amplified by the rapid movement of people around the world, cancers, some of which areviral in origin, reactivation of old infectious diseases, respiratory pathologies, some of whichcannot be treated: HIV, malaria and tuberculosis are all targets for research and for thedevelopment of new vaccination strategies. There are currently grounds to believe that due toinnovation in basic research and clinical trials in human and social sciences, protection of allage brackets within the population is possible.During her PhD program, Dr. BehazineCombadière contributed to the field of HIV immune responses by studying negative regulation of HIV-specific CD8 responses in HIV-infectedindividuals, what she completed in murine models at the National Institutes of Health (NIH,Bethesda, MD, USA).


Back to France (1998), she obtained a permanent position as a research associate and younginvestigator award (French Agency of research) and pursues her research to decipher immuneresponses to cancer and then infectious diseases (mainly HIV, Influenza viruses andSmallpox).She also contributed to the understanding of persistence of immune memory afterinfection or vaccination. She showed that 25 years after end of Smallpox vaccination(absence of circulating pathogens), the intensity of persistent T CD4 cell memory responsesdepend on the time since the first immunization and not since the last vaccination. Fromthere, she focused on the understanding of initiation of immune responses and its impact onimmune memory. Dr. BehazineCombadière has been pioneer in vaccine immunity anddelivery by hair follicular targeting and has brought from concept into clinical trials thisnovel needle-free vaccination method. The skin mode of vaccine administration is one theprincipal aspect of research to develop novel immunization strategies that will increase theefficiency of vaccination in the population.Dr. Behazine Combadière also coordinated FP6 European projects as a work-package leaderof “Preclinical mice model for vaccine immunogenicity” (MuNanoVac, MucosalNanoparticle Vaccines) and Europrise.