Dr Anja Saso

Clinical Research Fellow

United Kingdom

I am a paediatrician and Wellcome-Trust Clinical PhD fellow based between the UK and The Gambia. My work focuses on improving maternal and child health outcomes worldwide, specifically through translational research within infection, immunity and vaccination.

I completed my undergraduate medical degree at Cambridge University (pre-clinical) followed by Imperial College London (clinical), qualifying as a doctor in 2013. During this time, I also completed a MSci at Cambridge University in the History and Philosophy of Science, focussing on bioethics, the history and philosophy of the mind, and medical humanitarianism (specifically Médecins Sans Frontières). Subsequently, I have been training in Paediatrics in London since 2015, and I have completed my Membership for the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

Since 2018, I have been based at the MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG), working with the Infant Immunology research group within the Vaccine & Immunity Theme. I am committed to inter-disciplinary research which tackles key biological and implementation challenges to the most optimal, equitable and widespread use of vaccines in pregnancy, newborns and infants, particularly in LMICs. More specifically, my interest lies in embedding laboratory-based science and systems immunology methods within large mother-infant vaccine trials, in order to generate mechanistic insights into correlates of vaccine-induced protection.

Beyond research, I am also involved in the Clinical Services Department at MRCG, running paediatric clinics, helping with clinical paediatric guidelines and leading regular paediatric/neonatal resuscitation courses (particularly the 'Help Babies Breathe' programme at MRCG and EFSTH).

I am passionate about improving public understanding of immunisations and infections in childhood and pregnancy, as well as promoting vaccine equity, access and uptake globally. I helped to set up and run the 'Women, infant and newborn health' (WIN) network at MRCG bringing together like-minded early career researchers across the Unit. I am a member of the LSHTM Vaccine Centre's Management Committee and the ‘Immunising pregnant women and newborns network’ (IMPRINT). I am also a committee member of 'International Child Health Group (ICHG)', a special interest group of RCPCH. ICHG advocates for better child health around the world and supports the education and training of the global child health leaders of tomorrow.


Department of Clinical Research
Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases


I have supervised and currently mentor several scientific officers based at MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG)

I run regular immunology teaching sessions at MRCG. I am also a tutor on LSHTM's distance learning module IDM213 'Immunology of Infection and Vaccines' and will contribute to the F2F 'Vaccine Immunology' module (3191).

Clinically, I also run paediatric/neonatal resuscitation courses, particularly the 'Help Babies Breathe' programme, in The Gambia (MRCG & EFSTH).


I am interested in embedding laboratory-based science within large mother-infant vaccine trials, including using systems immunology methods and tools to analyse the biological samples collected, in order to generate mechanistic insights into correlates of vaccine-induced protection.

My PhD project is entitled 'Vaccine-induced systemic and mucosal immunity to Bordetella pertussis in infancy: bringing B-and T-cell responses together’ and is nested within a phase IV maternal/infant randomised-control vaccine trial (Gambian Pertussis Study, GaPs, NCT03606096), the Sub-Saharan African arm of the PERtussIS Correlates Of Protection Europe (PERISCOPE) consortium. Using systems immunology tools, we are a) comparing the immunogenicity of acellular versus whole-cell pertussis vaccines at both systemic and mucosal levels in Gambian infants, and b) exploring the impact of maternal pertussis immunisation in pregnancy on these infants' developing immune system. The findings will contribute to PERISCOPE's broader efforts to improve the design and testing of the next generation of more immunogenic and longer-lasting infant pertussis vaccines.

I am also passionate about working with social scientists to understand vaccine uptake, including why women decide to receive or refuse vaccines in pregnancy and for their infants, and thereby improve public education, engagement and confidence in routine and/or novel vaccination rollouts.
Research Area
Maternal health
Neonatal health
Child health
Infectious disease policy
Global health
T-cell immunology
Serology, vaccines
Disease and Health Conditions
Respiratory diseases
Infectious diseases
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)
Least developed countries: UN classification

Selected Publications

Long-Term Persistence of Spike Protein Antibody and Predictive Modeling of Antibody Dynamics After Infection With Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
Grandjean, L; SASO, A; Torres Ortiz, A; Lam, T; Hatcher, J; Thistlethwayte, R; Harris, M; Best, T; Johnson, M; Wagstaffe, H; Ralph, E; Mai, A; Colijn, C; Breuer, J; Buckland, M; Gilmour, K; Goldblatt, D; COVID-19 Staff Testing of Antibody Responses Study,;
Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
Maternal Immunization: Nature Meets Nurture.
Fifteen-minute consultation: Management of the infant born to a mother with toxoplasmosis in pregnancy
SASO, A; Bamford, A; Grewal, K; Noori, M; Hatcher, J; D'Arco, F; Guy, E; Lyall, H;
Archives of disease in childhood - Education & practice edition
Recognition and management of congenital ichthyosis in a low-income setting.
SASO, A; Dowsing, B; FORREST, K; Glover, M;
BMJ case reports
Breast Milk Cytokines and Early Growth in Gambian Infants.
SASO, A; Blyuss, O; Munblit, D; FAAL, A; Moore, SE; Le Doare, K;
Frontiers in pediatrics
Vaccine responses in newborns.
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