Malaria Vaccine Initiative Gets New Leadership

SEATTLE, and ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) today announced the appointments of Drs. Melinda Moree and Filip Dubovsky as director and scientific director, respectively, of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI). Launched in 1999, MVI accelerates development of vaccines against malaria -- a disease that kills approximately 2.7 million people annually. Previous MVI director Regina Rabinovich, M.D., joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this month as director of infectious diseases, Global Health Program.

Moree has been with MVI since 1999, leading the business development effort, including developing agreements and spearheading a re-examination of the handling of intellectual property for neglected diseases. Her prior experience includes managing advanced research at a drug delivery company, technology transfer at a university, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellowship. She earned her PhD in medical microbiology from the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

As director, Moree is responsible for the overall management, strategic direction, and implementation of MVI.

"I am gratified to be leading this international effort to develop a vaccine to help curb the misery caused by malaria, a disease that kills nearly 4,000 children every day," said Moree. "The MVI team will continue to work in close partnership with the malaria vaccine community to drive promising vaccine candidates into well-designed clinical trials. Though current malaria control efforts are making a difference, a vaccine is crucial for ending deaths among children."

A pediatrician, infectious disease specialist, and vaccinologist, Dubovsky has guided portfolio management, technology assessment, and project development for MVI since 2000. He now manages MVI's diverse vaccine development portfolio and provides scientific oversight to MVI's product development teams.

"Malaria remains an under-appreciated epidemic that is becoming progressively difficult to control," said Dubovsky. "I strongly believe a malaria vaccine is both essential and technically feasible. I look forward to steering the science program to make such life saving vaccines a reality."

In three years, MVI initiated nine vaccine development partnerships. All have made significant progress -- some more quickly than expected. Four of the partnerships have vaccines in clinical trials. PATH expects continued momentum with Moree at the helm and Dubovsky taking on greater scientific oversight. The new position of scientific director was created in response to MVI's expanding vaccine development portfolio.

Dr. Christopher Elias, PATH's president, feels, "MVI has achieved tremendous progress in its short, three-year history, in large part due to the substantial contributions of Drs. Moree and Dubovsky. Their in-depth knowledge of malaria, vaccine science, and the art of public-private partnership will continue to propel the program forward."

MVI operates primarily through partnerships with academia, government, and biotech and pharmaceutical companies. These partnerships are overcoming technical and financial hurdles to clinical testing of promising vaccine candidates. They are also addressing potential barriers to eventual malaria vaccine introduction, including market-related, intellectual property and financing issues.

Established through an initial grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) seeks to accelerate the development of promising malaria vaccines and ensure their availability for the developing world. MVI envisions a world where vaccines protect children from death and severe disease from malaria. For more information, visit http://www.malariavaccine.org/ .

PATH is an international organization dedicated to developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative solutions to public health problems. PATH's mission is to improve health, especially the health of women and children. Visit PATH at http://www.path.org/ .

Source: Malaria Vaccine Initiative

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