dr. P.C.J.L. (Patricia) Bruijning-Verhagen Associate Professor
- Department of Epidemiology
- Julius Center Research Program Infectious Diseases
Dr. Bruijning-Verhagen is a pediatrician and epidemiologist who received her clinical training at Leiden University Medical Centre and Montreal Children’s Hospital (2008). She initiated her career in research with a Maria Raiche Studentship Award from McGilll University in Montreal. In 2011, she obtained her MSc in Epidemiology from McGill University and returned to the Netherlands where she joined the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care of the UMC Utrecht. She received her PhD from the University of Utrecht in 2013 for her work on epidemiology of rotavirus hospitalizations and implications for vaccination strategies. As an Assistant Professor between 2013 and 2017, she set up her own research group in epidemiology of childhood infectious diseases at the Julius Center and was also appointed as Adjunct Professor at the department of Epidemiology of McGill University. She is currently appointed as Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology at the Julius Center with a cross-appointment at the Center for Infectious Disease Control of the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
Vaccine preventable diseases, in particular rotavirus, is the central theme in Dr. Bruijning’s epidemiological research. Her research focus is on optimizing prevention strategies for infants and children through vaccination, with a special focus on medically vulnerable pediatric populations. To this end, she set up a network of 15 pediatric hospitals to conduct vaccine studies in medically vulnerable infants. Between 2014 and 2019, two large multicenter studies involving >4000 infants were conducted in this network (RIVAR project: Risk-Group Infant Vaccination Against Rotavirus; PRIEMA study: Primary Immunizations in Premature Infants). Her group also uses a range of routine clinical surveillance and healthcare data to study disease occurrence, transmission, and direct and indirect protection from vaccination in the population, applying methods as longitudinal data analysis, time-series, self-controlled case series analysis as well as cost-effectiveness modeling. Focus has been on rotavirus, influenza and pneumococcal vaccination and studied diseases include respiratory tract infections, acute gastroenteritis and otitis media. She also has a strong interest in understanding dynamics of infectious diseases transmission and the impact of large scale vaccination. In 2015, she received a Veni career grant (NWO) to study rotavirus and norovirus transmission within young households. The results from this study were recently accepted for publication in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, the top-ranking journal in infectious diseases. A second theme in her research is emerging arbovirus infections. She contributes to public health risk assessment through studies on arbovirus infections among travellers (ZIeKA Monitor) and in pregnant women (ZIKAction).
As PI, she received grants from (inter)national research organizations and pharma with a total budget 3.5 million. She has published >70 articles including peer-reviewed papers, professional guidelines, scientific reports and publications for the lay public. She is involved in a number of (inter)national consortia including the IMI project Trial@Home, the NWA project Preparing for vector-borne virus outbreaks in a changing world: a One Health Approach, the EU funded ZIKAction project and she is co-PI on an influenza vaccination trial in children with recurrent respiratory tract infections (SAFARI-trial). As part of her research she supervises postdoctoral, PhD and MSc candidates. She lectures in BSc and MSc Life Sciences programmes of Utrecht University and in various post-graduate training courses for medical doctors.
While conducting prospective community studies on infectious diseases in children, dr Bruijning has explored methods for improving data collection of participant reported outcomes. This has resulted in the development and scientific validation of an interactive Diary-App for monitoring study participants and to capture their relevant health events in real-time. The Diary-App has now been used in several of her studies on occurrence of acute respiratory and gastrointestinal infections (DigiOor, RotaFam, Klokwerk, ZIeKA Monitor) and resulted in excellent data completeness, between 92-97%. Ongoing studies using the Diary App include an influenza vaccine trial in children (SAFARI-trial), and a study monitoring occurrence of febrile illnesses during pregnancy (ZIKAction). Recently, Dr Bruijning teamed up with an IT company for further expansion of the App platform, , the research FollowApp, that will also be available to third research parties.
Dr Bruijning has a strong interest in communicating science to the lay public and advocating childhood vaccination. Contributions to the media include interviews for national television (Nieuwsuur, Dit is M, EénVandaag, De Buitendienst) and news radio, national newspapers and news sites (Volkskrant, AD, NOS, RTL Nieuws), articles in popular magazines (Vrij Nederland, de Groene Amsterdammer), professional magazines (Medisch Contact, Nataal, Magazines NVML, Pediatric nursing and V&VN) as well as magazines from patient advocacy groups (Kleine Maatjes, Baby’s Digest). She has given public talks at various science events (Betweter Festival, De Balie debate evening, annual Faculty Dinner Utrecht University, Public lecture UMC Utrecht). In 2018, I was invited to a round table discussion on vaccination between members of Parliament and key scientific experts. In a joined effort with UMC Utrecht Marcom, she developed a range of educational online content on childhood vaccinations, including a webinars, podcasts and articles. This content is widely distributed through various social media channels. In addition, She actively uses twitter to share her view on important news from science and press on vaccine preventable diseases as well as emerging arbovirus infections.
External Advisor Dutch Health Council on rotavirus vaccination
Biannual European Expert Meeting on Rotavirus Vaccination
International Scientific Committee member and Chair of the 2017 edition
RIVM Committee “Extra Vaccinaties of Maat”
Appointed as representative of the Dutch Pediatric Association for interdisciplinary guideline committee on vaccine preventable diseases
Vaccinology Masterclass Foundation
Annual post-graduate vaccinology courses for youth health care physicians and pediatricians
Fellowship and Awards
NWO VENI Grant 2015
ESPID Small Grant Award, European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases
Maria Raiche Graduate Student Scholarship Award, McGill University
Vaccinology Student Research Award, Health Agency Canada