IAVI Receives GSK Funding for the Human Vaccines Project to Accelerate Development of Vaccines for Infectious Diseases and Cancer

NEW YORK, Feb. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has received a grant of US$350,000 from GSK to support implementation of the Human Vaccines Project, a new public-private partnership seeking to transform global disease prevention by collaboratively addressing some of the key scientific challenges in vaccine development across diseases.
The GSK grant will help to establish the Project's global consortium and plan its research program. The funding builds on a grant last year to IAVI by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for a series of workshops to explore how to accelerate development of vaccines via a Human Vaccines Project, by tackling the major scientific challenges impeding vaccine research and development (R&D) through greater collaboration, increased knowledge sharing, and innovation. The first workshop, held in February 2014, focused on the scientific challenges to vaccine development, at which leading vaccine experts endorsed the Project's objectives and helped to frame its scientific plan.           
Wayne C. Koff, IAVI Chief Scientific Officer and founding member of the Human Vaccines Project Board, announced the GSK grant during a symposium at the AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose, CA.
"For all that we have achieved with vaccines, there are still far too many diseases that we can't prevent and which have a devastating impact, particularly in the developing world," says Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President, Vaccines Research and Development, GSK. "The more we can do – both individually and collectively – to overcome the current scientific challenges the better. We are very pleased to support the Human Vaccines Project and we encourage others to join us in this potentially ground-breaking initiative."
The Project's objectives are to facilitate development of new and improved vaccines by deciphering the "Human Immunome," all the genes and proteins associated with the human immune system, and elucidating the "Rules of Immunogenicity", i.e., how humans generate effective immune responses with vaccines. Thus, the Project aims to address the common scientific obstacles preventing development of vaccines against major and emerging infectious diseases and cancers complementing ongoing disease-specific vaccine development efforts.
"Industry involvement will be key to the success of the Human Vaccines Project, and we are excited that GSK has become the first corporate partner of the Project. Their support will help to engage other pharmaceutical partners to join this important new initiative," said Koff.
In July 2014, 20 business leaders from the public and private sectors reviewed the Project's mission and goals, and recommended the Project be structured as a global, non-profit R&D consortium closely engaged with industrial partners, and affiliated with one or more academic centers conducting vaccine R&D (Expert Review of Vaccines, in press). The Project is currently in the process of establishing the principal hubs of such a consortium, including exploration of centers in the United States, Europe and Asia, to which leadership of the Project will then transition from IAVI, its initial catalyst.
"The Human Vaccines Project is driven by the rapid pace of technological advances in genomics, bioinformatics and structural and systems biology, and likely would not have been possible even five years ago. It is a tremendously exciting time in vaccinology as we move toward preventing very challenging global killers such as AIDS, TB, malaria, Ebola, and cancers. Science and innovation will get us the vaccines we need," said Stanley Plotkin, Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania and Chairman of the Human Vaccines Project Steering Committee.
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996, IAVI works with private companies, academics, and civil society partners in 25 countries to research, design, and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. In addition, IAVI conducts policy analyses and serves as an advocate for the AIDS vaccine field. IAVI supports a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV and AIDS that balances the expansion and strengthening of existing HIV-prevention and treatment programs with targeted investments in the design and development of new tools to prevent HIV. IAVI is dedicated to ensuring that a future AIDS vaccine will be available and accessible to all who need it. IAVI's work is made possible by generous support from many donors including: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark; Irish Aid; the Ministry of Finance of Japan in partnership with The World Bank; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD); the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The full list of IAVI donors is available at www.iavi.org.
GSK – one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
Media contact: Barbara Rosen, Director, Global Communications, [email protected]
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SOURCE International AIDS Vaccine Initiative