Shannon David

Dr Shannon David

NHMRC funded Post-Doctoral Researcher

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Dr. Shannon David completed her Bachelor of Science and PhD at the University of Adelaide. Her PhD research focused on the development of a universal Influenza A vaccine, under the supervision of Dr. Mohammed Alsharifi in the Vaccine Research Laboratory. Following completion of her PhD in 2018, Dr. David took up a position as a post-doctoral researcher in the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases at the University of Adelaide. Here, she is continuing her work in vaccine development, and is a lead researcher in the R&D team developing a pneumococcal vaccine intended for human clinical trials.

Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the world’s foremost bacterial pathogen. It causes pneumonia, bacteraemia, meningitis and otitis media, and is responsible for 1-2 million deaths worldwide each year, killing more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines (PCV; Prevnar®) are available, and are highly effective at reducing disease due to included serotypes. However, current PCVs have major shortcomings; they are expensive to manufacture, and they offer protection only against serotypes included in the formulation. Due to this restricted serotype coverage (13 serotypes are covered by the current PCV13 vaccine, out of 98 total), ongoing use of PCVs has resulted in rapid emergence of non-included serotypes as major causes of colonisation and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). This is termed serotype replacement, and where IPD was mainly due to vaccine-included serotypes before PCV introduction, non-included serotypes are now the primary contributors to morbidity and mortality in children and adults today. Thus, there is an urgent requirement and a massive global market for a less expensive vaccine capable of protecting against all pneumococci, regardless of serotype.

SEM image of irradiated pneumococciI am currently part of the R&D team developing a unique pneumococcal vaccine that could meet this global need. This vaccine was developed in the laboratories of Chief Investigators Dr. Mohammed Alsharifi & Professor James Paton at the University of Adelaide. Our vaccine comprises whole-cell pneumococci that have been inactivated by exposure to gamma-irradiation (termed gamma-PN, see Figure 1). This approach has significant cost advantages over PCVs and multi-component purified protein formulations. Preliminary work has established that our novel formulation can provide protection in mice against lethal challenge with the vaccine-included serotype and multiple heterologous serotypes. This constitutes serotype-independent protection, and licensure of our vaccine for humans could curb the serotype replacement associated with ongoing PCV use.

My work also involves the development of a universal influenza A virus vaccine. This vaccine preparation is inactivated using the same method of gamma-irradiation, generating a whole killed influenza vaccine (gamma-Flu). The formulations of gamma-Flu and gamma-PN that we are developing were also co-administered in mice as part of a recent study - this was found to bi-directionally enhance vaccine-induced immune responses and protection. This was due to a unique and never before reported direct interaction between our gamma-Flu and gamma-PN vaccine preparations, which was concurrently reported by our US collaborators to occur for live pneumococci and flu virus. These findings were published as accompanying papers in Nature Microbiology. Our vaccines and research group have also been featured in multiple news reports appearing on Australian networks (pictured below), following the publishing of our findings. 

Featured story on 10 News NetworkFeatured story on 7 News Network



  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 NHMCR Grant-Funded Researcher University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2020 Award Immunology & Cell Biology Thermo Fisher Scientific Publication Award: Immunology & Cell Biology Journal Australia 500
    2019 Nomination ASI New Investigator Award (sponsered by Pfizer) Australian Society for Immunology Australia
    2019 Award Post Graduate Academic Achievement Award The University of Adelaide Australia $250
    2019 Award Oral Presentation Award 14th European Meeting on the Molecular Biology of the Pneumococcus (Europneumo) Germany
    2019 Award Travel Grant The Hospital Research Foundation Australia $3,500
    2018 Award Travel Grant Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Australia $1,000
    2017 Award Oral Presentation Award - Post Graduate Symposium The University of Adelaide Australia $250
    2016 Award Popular Poster Award The University of Adelaide Australia $100
    2014 Award Outstanding Academic Achievement Award The University of Adelaide Australia
    2013 Award Outstanding Academic Achievement Award The University of Adelaide Australia
    2013 Scholarship Undergraduate Research Scholarship The University of Adelaide Australia $1500
    2012 Award Outstanding Academic Achievement Award The University of Adelaide Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2015 - 2018 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    2012 - 2014 University of Adelaide Australia BSc
  • Research Interests

  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing Member Infection & Immunity Special Interest Group Organising Committee Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2018 - ongoing Member Society for Mucosal Immunology Australia
    2017 - ongoing Member Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology Australia
  • Event Participation

    Date Event Name Event Type Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing ASM Speed Networking Event - Invited Panel Member Networking event Australian Society for Microbiology
  • Position: NHMRC funded Post-Doctoral Researcher
  • Phone: 83135433
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 5
  • Room: 5.19
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

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