VSN Secretariat and Advisory Group

VSN Secretariat and Advisory Group

VSN Secretariat and Advisory Group

Last update: 20 April 2017

Vaccine Safety Net Secretariat



Mrs. Isabelle Sahinovic is an international expert in project management. Before joining WHO headquarters, Isabelle spent more than fifteen years working in emergency and relief operations, post crisis health systems rehabilitation, mainly in Eastern Europe and Africa. Isabelle is coordinating the Vaccine Safety Net and participating to the Global Vaccine Safety Initiative management as a member of the Safety and Vigilance (SAV) team at WHO.


Dr Smaragda Lamprianou holds an MSc in Neuropharmacology, a PhD in Neuronal Physiology (Pasteur, Paris) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Global Health Policy (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine).  Her research experience in vaccination and immunology included involvement on the development of a vaccine against Alzheimer's disease. She was also a scientific adviser to the Greek delegation during the 64th and 67th World Health Assembly.


Ms. Alma Sokolovic-Rasmussen is a Communication Consultant with a broad expertise in web-communication, web-development, project management, design and online collaboration / communities. Alma’s background is in Communication for Development (MA) and Design (BA), and she has 20 years of experience on projects with the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP, UNOPS/UNISDR, and most recently, with WHO on the ‘Immunize Europe Forum’.


VSN Advisory Group


Dr Robert Pless is currently medical advisor to the Vaccine Safety Section of the Surveillance and Epidemiology Division of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada, with a special interest in communication issues. Since 2015, he is the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety chairperson.


Mrs. Catharina de Kat is a Communications, Web and Information Officer, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization programme (VPI) of the WHO/Europe. Prior to her current position, she worked as a consultant in the web communications team of WHO/Europe, and as an editor, web editor and translator for academic publishers and nongovernmental organizations.


Dr Alberto Tozzi  is a pediatrician and an epidemiologist at the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital where he is responsible of a research area and of a telemedicine unit. He has participated in several studies on vaccines at national and international level. He has been a component of the Expert Vaccine Group of the European Center for Diseases Control. He has published papers on use of web traces for epidemiological surveillance purposes. He is currently running a study to monitor public information needs on vaccines, based on internet monitoring.


Dr Suleman Malik is currently working as C4D Specialist in the Immunization Unit, UNICEF HQs with focus on the Polio Endgame, and strengthening routine immunization programmes. Suleman led C4D teams in Malawi and Kenya before joining the HQs from his most recent post as Chief of C4D in Myanmar. Over his last 16 years with UNICEF, Suleman supported the development of sev­eral innovative communication initiatives that live on to this day, including gender equity programming in Pakistan, a holistic communication strategy for Child Survival and Development in East Africa, and a children-led edu-tainment initiative in Kenya to promote hand-washing, which has since been replicated in many countries.



Dr Jane Gidudu is a physician with several years of field epidemiology and vaccine safety experience globally. Most of her work focused on developing standardized tools & guidance for scientists to advance the understanding of vaccine safety in both resource-rich and resource-poor settings. She has conducted vaccine safety studies in clinical trial and post-marketing settings. She currently works with the Global Immunization Division, at the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. She provides oversight for vaccine safety activities collaborating with several partners to support the implementation of WHO’s Global Vaccine Safety Initiative (GVSI) activities.


Ms. Sarah Loving is the manager of the Vaccine Knowledge Project, a vaccine information website managed by Oxford Vaccine Group, which is an academic research group in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Oxford. She has considerable experience of writing about science and scientific issues for non-specialist audiences. She is also involved with an interdisciplinary project at the University of Oxford's Martin School entitled 'Collective responsibility for infectious disease'.


Mr Gary Finnegan is Editor of Vaccines Today. He has a degree in physiology, an MSc in science communication and has worked as a health journalist and editor for 10 years. He was a national winner at the EU Health Prize for Journalists in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and winner of two Irish Medical Media Awards. Gary plans and prepares content for Vaccines Today with the support of an editorial board.


Dr Deborah L. Wexler is founder and executive director of the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), the largest nonprofit immunization education and advocacy organization in the United States. A recipient of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Excellence in Partnering award; the American Pharmacists Association Immunization Champion Award – Friend of Pharmacy; and the Every Child By Two National Immunization Leadership Award, Wexler continues to provide innovative leadership to the national immunization community in critical areas including effective communication of the value of vaccines, advocacy for improved vaccine policies, and increasing coverage rates across the age span through provider education.


Dr María- José Álvarez-Pasquín works as Family doctor at Health Care Centre Santa Hortensia, is  Collaborator at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and Tutor of Family Medicine residents. She belongs to Directive Committee Member of Spanish Vaccinology Scientific Society (AEV), is cofounder of the Vacunas.org site and Director since 2013. Her expertise combines the areas of health, Internet, vaccines & communication. Trough “Vacunas Solidarias”, had the experience of taking vaccines to Haiti and other countries, and came back with the message “Vaccine works, here and there”.