WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) recently named some of the world's most eminent malaria scientists and vaccinologists to its Vaccine Science Portfolio Advisory Council (VSPAC)—a group of external experts tasked with providing strategic input and advice on the MVI's scientific portfolio and overall research and development (R&D) program. MVI is driving the development of safe and effective vaccines for the fight against malaria—a disease that still kills more than 500,000 children under age 5 every year. Half the world's population remains at risk of contracting malaria.
The new members of the VSPAC are: Dr. Norman Baylor, President and CEO of Biologics Consulting Group, Inc. and former Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review (OVRR) in the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research; Dr. Kamini Mendis, an independent consultant on malaria and tropical medicine, formerly the Coordinator of Malaria Treatment and Malaria Elimination at the World Health Organization; Dr. Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, Co-Director and Chief Scientific Officer of VGTI Florida; and Dr. Fidel Zavala, Professor at the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.
"We're fortunate to have some of the world's most distinguished scientists advising us on MVI's malaria vaccine research and development strategy," said Dr. David C. Kaslow, director of MVI and former chair of the VSPAC. "The expertise of the VSPAC members is a critical resource to realizing our near-term strategic goal of supporting development of a first-generation malaria vaccine that could protect millions against disease and death, as well as our long-term goals of developing more highly effective second-generation vaccines, including vaccines to support future elimination and eradication efforts."
From early-stage projects in the laboratory to those in the final phases of testing, MVI has a robust pipeline of vaccine projects for controlling and, ultimately, eradicating malaria. MVI partners with companies, governments, and organizations to advance and invest in only the most promising vaccine candidates. The work of the VSPAC is a vital part of a comprehensive portfolio management system that ensures that only the most promising projects will move forward. The VSPAC provides expert and independent advice on the vaccine portfolio and helps MVI make decisions about the most effective ways to use its resources.
VSPAC members represent the research, product development, and public health communities, both private and public sectors, and six of the world's continents. New members are appointed by the MVI Leadership Team, in consultation with the new VSPAC chair, Dr. Brendan Crabb.
The other current members of the VSPAC are: Professor Fred Binka, Project Manager for the INDEPTH Network Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance (MCTA) in Accra, Ghana; Dr. John Boslego, Director of PATH's other vaccine development program; Dr. Brendan Crabb, malaria researcher and CEO of Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health; Dr. Tom Monath, a Partner at the Pandemic and Biodefense Fund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Dr. Rino Rappuoli, Global Head of Vaccines Research for Novartis Vaccines; Dr. David Salisbury, Director of Immunization at the UK Department of Health; and Dr. Kathryn C. Zoon, Director of the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH).
More Details About the Newest Members of the VSPAC*
Norman Baylor, PhD, is currently the President and CEO of Biologics Consulting Group, Inc. He was formerly the Director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review (OVRR) in the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Prior to his position as Director, Dr. Baylor served as Deputy Director of OVRR and Associate Director for Regulatory Policy. He has evaluated and facilitated the development and licensure of numerous new vaccines such as acellular pertussis, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate, human papillomavirus (HPV), influenza, Zoster, and all of the new-generation combination vaccines during his 20-year career at FDA. Dr. Baylor served as FDA's liaison to the US Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the US Department of Health and Human Services National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines. Dr. Baylor continues to serve as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization on several global vaccine initiatives including assessing national regulatory authorities worldwide.
Kamini Mendis, MD, PhD, DSc, is an independent consultant on malaria and tropical medicine. Until October 2010, she was the Coordinator of Malaria Treatment and Malaria Elimination at the World Health Organization, Geneva. She began her career as a clinician and moved to research on immunology and vaccine development in malaria, and then on to a wide range of study in the areas of immunology, epidemiology, clinical studies, pathogenesis, and disease control in malaria. In 1980, she founded the Malaria Research Centre at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. She has made several original contributions to scientific knowledge on malaria. Her work on malaria research has been honored by national and international awards including the National Presidential Award (1983), the Chalmers Medal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1991), and the Ashford Bailey Medal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1993).
Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, PhD, has been, for the past two years, the Co-Director and Chief Scientific Officer of VGTI Florida, an institute focused on the development of better immune therapies and vaccines for chronic viral diseases and cancer. He has been involved in the areas of AIDS and AIDS pathogenesis for the past 15 years and recently received the Avant Garde Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his work on the HIV reservoir. In addition to his scientific work and leadership at VGTI Florida, Dr. Sekaly is the Founder and Scientific Director for the National Laboratory of Immune Monitoring. Dr. Sekaly has also been awarded, with his colleagues at University of California, San Francisco, a $25 million award for work aimed at identifying novel approaches to eradicate HIV.
Fidel Zavala, MD, is a Professor at the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, as well as a member of the Malaria Research Institute. He has served as a member of the editorial board of Infection and Immunity, Experimental Parasitology, and the Journal of Immunological Methods; as Editor of Parasitology International; and recently as Associate Editor of the Journal of Immunology. He served as a member of the Advisory Board of the European Virtual Institute of Malaria Research and, since 2010, he is a permanent member of the Pathogenic Eukaryotes Study Section at the National Institutes of Health. The main focuses of his research are the immunology of malaria parasite infections and vaccine immunology.
*Full bios of current and newest VSPAC members available at: http://www.malariavaccine.org/vspac-members.php
About the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative: MVI is a global program established at PATH through an initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MVI's mission is to accelerate the development of malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world. MVI's vision is a world free from malaria. For more information, please visit www.malariavaccine.org.
About PATH: PATH is an international nonprofit organization that transforms global health through innovation. PATH takes an entrepreneurial approach to developing and delivering high-impact, low-cost solutions, from lifesaving vaccines and devices to collaborative programs with communities. Through its work in more than 70 countries, PATH and its partners empower people to achieve their full potential. For more information, please visit www.path.org.
For more information, please contact:
Katy Lenard, for the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative,
+1 301-280-5719 or [email protected]
SOURCE PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative