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Professor Sue Ann Costa Clemens


Honors Awarded


Certificate of Honour to Merit in recognition of relevant performance in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil – conferred by the Extraordinary Secretariat for Covid-19, Ministry of Health of Brazil


Awarded with Christ Redeemer Medal, Medical Tribute of the Regional Council of Medicine, for contributions to public health and medicine in the state of Rio de Janeiro


Tribute granted by the City of Rio de Janeiro and Secretary of Education, municipality of Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Carioca Education, for valuing science and contributing to the development of the vaccine against COVID-19


Decorated with the Rui Barbosa Medal - Granted by the Ministry of Tourism, Special Secretariat for Culture, Fundação Casa Rui Barbosa, Brazil


Tribute from the Chamber of Deputies of the Federal Republic, Brasilia, Brazil: Brazilians in Times of Epidemics, Brazil


Title of Official Guest of Honour of the Botucatu County, Botucatu, SP, Brazil


Lancet publication of the year 2006

Ruiz-Palacius, Perz-Schael I, et al. Safety and efficacy of an attenuated vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. N Engl J Med 2006:354:11-22 (jointly with Merck for their Rotavirus vaccine work)


Honorary Citizenship of the city of Trajano de Moraes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the initiative and implementation of the first Hepatitis A&B vaccine in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Professor Dr. Sue Ann Costa Clemens


SAIL for Health Professor

SAIL for Health Chair of Global Health and Clinical Development

Professor of Global Health, Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology;

  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to sciences and public health in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2023.
  • Commander of the Federal Republic of Brazil, with the Medal of Order of Medical Merit, by the President of Brazil for services in public health
  • Commander of the Federal Republic of Brazil, with the Medal of Order of Rio Branco by the President of Brazil for services in public health.


Professor Sue Ann Costa Clemens life’s mission as a healthcare professional and educator is to increase years of life, to improve the quality of those years gained, and to foster equal access to preventive and therapeutic medicine for all. To achieve her goals, throughout her career, Professor Costa Clemens has contributed to Global Health through the development of more than 20 globally licenced vaccines and pharmaceuticals, ranging from paediatric vaccines which are the cornerstone of WHO EPI programs, to vaccines for pregnant women, vaccines for the elderly and pandemic vaccines, thus saving millions of lives worldwide and reducing long-term sequalae and disabilities.

As part of her work, Professor Costa Clemens has led large-scale clinical vaccine trials including efficacy and effectiveness studies with various innovative and high impact vaccines such as the world-first pentavalent DTP-HBV-Hib vaccine, for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis) or DTP, polio, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b, which is now a cornerstone of worldwide paediatric immunisation programmes in LMICs. She led the development of a low-cost oral Rotavirus vaccine that protects infants against rotavirus enteritis and, since its licensure, has seen an almost 40% decrease in infant diarrhoeal infection mortality worldwide, as well as of a widely used pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. In partnership with the Costa Rican Ministry of Health, she contributed to the development, licensing and roll-out of an initially 3-dose HPV vaccine, against the human papillomavirus. Long-term follow up studies on this vaccine showed that one dose has the same protective efficacy as multiple doses, leading to WHO SAGE recommending a single dose, making the HPV vaccine affordable and accessible in the LMICs with the highest disease burden. She was part of a core group of experts that developed the nOPV2 vaccine, an oral vaccine against poliomyelitis, which was the first vaccine to qualify for the WHO Emergency Use Listing Procedure (EUL) and of which more than 1 billion doses have been distributed to contain vaccine-derived polio outbreaks. With respect to polio, she contributed to the conduct of various IPV studies in infants which were key for the vaccination schedule change as part the global polio eradication initiative. During the pandemic, Professor Costa Clemens was deeply involved in the development of three COVID-19 vaccines. As for one of these, the Oxford /AZ COVID-19 vaccine, she was one of the principal investigators, secured funds for its clinical development in Brazil and contributed to the recruitment of nearly half of the sample size required by worldwide regulatory agencies to prove its efficacy. She has also conducted a COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness trial in the city of Botucatu, SP, Brazil, recruiting, in one day, 65,450 citizens aged 18–60 years (71% of the entire age cohort) for the first dose of the Oxford/AZ Covid-19 vaccine and 12,233 in the following 4 weeks for an 80% total population coverage.

She participated in the development of various other vaccines, such as DTaP combinations against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, an acellular pertussis vaccine for adults which is now routinely used in pregnant women to protect the newborn, as well as a hepatitis A and B combination vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccines, pandemic influenza, cholera, and MMR/ MMR-V (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines. Professor Costa Clemens comprehensive collaboration goes beyond vaccine development studies and spans from epidemiological and disease burden studies in partnership with the PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and various Latin American countries’ Health Ministries to vaccine access roll-out and immunisation policies. She was involved in similar work also in the USA, Asia and Africa. During the COVID-19 pandemic she assumed an important role in the initial negotiations of the tech transfer of the COVID-19 Oxford/AZ vaccine to Fiocruz (Brazil) as she had gained experience with other previous tech transfers from multinational corporations to local manufacturers. Also early in the COVID pandemic, Professor Costa Clemens was appointed member of the expert group on pandemic recommendations to the Health Ministers of the G7 countries, as well as a member of the expert group on “New International Framework to Support Clinical Trial Capacity”, presented at the World Health Assembly. In 2023, she was member of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Market Access for Vaccines (TAG-MI4A). 

Professor Costa Clemens obtained her Master’s degree in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at the Federal Fluminense University, Rio de Janeiro, in 1997. Her thesis was a seroprevalence study on entoparasites conducted in a countryside city in Northeastern Brazil, Ceará state, in students from public schools. 

The study had full support of the state of Ceará and city government as this was a pilot study to generate evidence for public health policies. The study also generated parameters for educational campaigns and patient education on fighting parasitic infections. The project contributed to the State of Cea’s recognition by UNICEF on improvement of children’s health. She continued her focus on public health, infectious diseases and vaccines, conducting a study on seroprevalence of hepatitis A, B, varicella and herpes simplex virus, recruiting over 12,000 subjects in six countries of Latin America. This was one of largest epidemiological studies conducted in Latin America at the time, and there she started gaining skills and knowledge on large multi centric studies, which later would be consolidated by key important clinical development. This study was part of her PhD thesis at the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil. 

In her career, Professor Costa Clemens held several leadership positions in education, research and development both in academia and industry. Professor Costa Clemens is, since 2000, Professor and International Scientific Coordinator of the Carlos Chagas Institute and University in Brazil. In 2008, she created the a Master’s course in Vaccinology and Drug Development, the first worldwide, at the University of Siena, Italy, sponsored by philanthropy, supranational organisations, industry and the EU. As co-founder, Head and Professor of the Institute for Global Health (IFGH) at the University of Siena, she leads education and capacity building efforts for low- and middle-income country students in the field of vaccine and drug development from bench to access. IFGH has trained over 1,300 students in this field from over 50 countries and expanded the program recently to a PhD in Vaccinology, Development and Policy. 

Since 2012, Professor Costa Clemens also has been a senior advisor on global health and global development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). During the pandemic in 2020, she led, as principal investigator, the Site Readiness project of BMGF, identifying, training, equipping and qualifying 22 clinical sites in 7 countries in Latin America in 4 months. The objective was to have quality clinical sites to carry large phase 3 trials for COVID-19 vaccines. Over 600 professionals were trained, and all those sites after qualification were part of the COVAX sites network. 

Professor Costa Clemens is the first Brazilian with a permanent endowed chair at the University of Oxford - the SAIL for Health Chair of Global Health and Clinical Development. The University of Oxford’s commitment to tackling major global health challenges has been strengthened following the endowment of this position.  

At Oxford University, since 2020, Professor Costa Clemens has been instrumental to the creation and establishment of the Oxford Research Group Latam, a hub that provides unprecedented opportunities for teaching and research for low and middle income countries, as well as for building up an important presence of the Department of Paediatrics and Oxford University in Latin America. This initiative is the first tailor-made research and educational hub for clinical development, providing training by teachers from Oxford University to future leaders in global health and development in the region. This cooperation between the Oxford University and Latin America has been further strengthened by the recently established undergraduate ‘Translational Science’ course, a consortium of three São Paulo universities (UNESP, USP, and UNICAMP) and the University of Oxford which was established by Professor Costa Clemens. 

Professor Costa Clemens has supervised over 100 Masters and PhD students. Her publications and books cover global health, vaccine development and infectious diseases. She co-authored the publication ‘Safety and efficacy of an attenuated vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis’ which won the Lancet publication of the year 2006. During the pandemic she wrote the book História de uma vacina (“History of a Vaccine”) with contributions of the British Ambassador to Brazil, Peter Wilson, CMG. Her book had an impact on the lay population, public health professionals and students, the book is being used by some universities as part of their recommendations on research initiation. 

She has also wrote the clinical development chapter of the book entitled “First 100% Brazilian COVID-19 Vaccine”. 

Professor Costa Clemens is chair and sits on the scientific advisory boards of several biotechnology companies and, as a believer in One Health and climate change, she is also a permanent member of the Innovation and Science committee of Ourofino, the largest Animal health company in Brazil.