Princeton University Researcher to Study Impact of Meningitis Vaccine Given to Students

vaccineA Princeton University researcher is recruiting students to participate in a study about the effects of the meningitis B vaccine given to members of the university community after the outbreak at the school.

Nicole Basta, an infectious disease epidemiologist who is an associate research scholar in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, said students at Princeton present a unique possibility to help researchers learn more about combating the deadly disease.

“The use of the meningitis B vaccine at Princeton provides an unprecedented opportunity to evaluate its impact,” Basta said in a Princeton University report about the study. “The more we can learn about the vaccination in the context of Princeton’s outbreak, the better prepared we’d be in the future to prevent and control meningococcal serogroup B outbreaks throughout the world.”

Basta has previously designed and conducted clinical epidemiological studies investigating the effects of vaccines, including a study in Mali examining population-level immunity following a mass-vaccination campaign to protect against meningococcal disease.

Basta had the idea for the study at Princeton in the winter following the first vaccine clinics on campus. She has developed the study in partnership with various school departments and offices. The study has been approved by the university’s institutional review board and will be funded by the Woodrow Wilson School’s program on U.S. health policy.

Nine cases of meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B bacteria have been associated with the university. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended the use of a vaccine licensed for use in Europe, Australia and Canada.

The first dose of the meningitis B vaccine has been provided to 5,502 people, or about 95 percent of the approximately 5,800 university community members who were eligible to receive the vaccine. A second dose of the vaccine was given to 5,139 people.

An email inviting students to participate in the study has been sent to eligible students, and students interested in taking part will be selected through a random sampling process. In order to be eligible, a potential participant must be enrolled at Princeton, have been eligible to receive the vaccine during the December 2013 and February 2014 vaccination clinics, and be 18 years of age or older. The study will take place on campus.

The study will collect and analyze blood samples to learn about the levels of antibody response against the outbreak strain following vaccination, and investigate other aspects of immune response and the effects of vaccination. Preliminary results to be available within a year after the study is completed.

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools of disease prevention ever developed,” Basta said. “Studying the immune response to vaccines on the individual and population levels yields valuable information, enabling us to develop more effective strategies for preventing and controlling infectious diseases and reducing public health threats both in our community and worldwide.”


  1. Typo: “He has developed…” should be “She….”: Dr Basta is a lady. I will refrain from commenting on the inherent sexism in our culture which might have led some people to automatically assume that a professional scientist had to be male.

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