Profile: Jeffrey S. Gerber, MD, PhD


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Associate professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and senior scholar within the Penn Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Jeffrey S. Gerber, MD, PhD is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and senior scholar within the Penn Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. His research focuses on observational studies to determine the epidemiology and outcomes associated with antimicrobial use in children as well as interventions designed to improve antimicrobial use based on established guidelines.

How long have you worked with a Vaccine & Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU)?

We are a relatively new VTEU. We started as a subsite of Vanderbilt a little more than two years ago, just before the pandemic hit.

Briefly describe the IDCRC-supported trials you’ve worked on/led.

We’ve participated in two studies so far:

  1. KidCOVE study, a randomized controlled trial testing the safety and immunogenicity of Moderna’s mRNA 1273 vaccine for children ages six months through 12 years-old, and
  2. MOMI-Vax study, a non-interventional study to evaluate the safety and immune responses of various COVID-19 vaccines when administered to pregnant or postpartum individuals, as well as how vaccine-induced antibodies transfer to infants through breast milk and placenta.

Of these trials, what has been the most impactful or highlight of the work?

KidCOVE has been the most impactful so far because of its size, scope and importance. At the time it started, there was no COVID-19 vaccine for children, and this remains the case for children less than five years old. Although the direct effect of COVID-19 on kids is much less that that seen in adults, the indirect effects – missed school, social interactions and activities – have been devastating. This vaccine will help mitigate these losses.

How did you accomplish your recruitment goals for the KidCOVE study?

Our recruitment goals for the KidCOVE study included approaching and enrolling a cohort that represented our city, Philadelphia, as closely as possible. To accomplish this, we advertised and specifically recruited families from practices with a diverse range of social vulnerability index, race and ethnicity. We feel strongly that success in this aspect of recruitment is key for helping produce generalizable results and inspiring caregivers of children from a wide range of backgrounds to become vaccinated when a product is approved.

What is a strength or example of the importance of the IDCRC?

The experience and perspective of the IDCRC is invaluable for prioritizing, leading and interpreting these studies. As an example, pediatric vaccine trial design requires a nuanced understanding of not only the pathogen and host, but pragmatic issues that will maximize participation and retention of families. Issues like missed school and work, as well as optimizing invasive procedures in young children, can make or break a trial. The IDCRC has the expertise to integrate the consideration of these elements into the protocol.

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