Skip to main content

Mayor Bloomberg And Other Honorees Herald Opening of IAVI’s New Design Lab

November 12, 2008

THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS VACCINE INITIATIVE OPENS STATE-OF-THE-ART LABORATORY IN PLANNED NEW BIOSCIENCE CENTER IN NEW YORK CITY

NEW YORK, November 12, 2008 — Today New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg honored the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory—a 36,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility located within a planned new bioscience center at the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal. IAVI’s Design Lab is the only facility in the world to be dedicated exclusively to the design and development of an AIDS vaccine.

Scientists at the Design Lab–together with partners in academia, the private sector and government– will design, compare, prioritize and advance promising AIDS vaccine strategies, towards the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic through an effective vaccine, accessible to all. The Design Lab is the latest addition to IAVI’s global AIDS vaccine discovery network. The programs at the lab will complement those IAVI has with both the private sector and academic partners throughout the world.

“New York City–already home to many of the world’s finest healthcare and research institutions–is getting a major boost as a global center of science and innovation with the opening of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s state-of-the-art Design Lab,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “We have taken a wide range of steps to promote new industries and diversify our economy, and the New York City Bioscience Initiative and our efforts to grow that sector are among the most important. Even more imperative is the work that will go on inside the new facility, as dedicated researchers and scientists advance efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine and help rid the world of the HIV epidemic.”

New York City has been at the heart of efforts to combat AIDS since HIV was found to be the cause of the disease 25 years ago. Its activists and leaders mobilized support for HIV prevention efforts and for affordable, antiretroviral drug therapy, which was pioneered in the City. With the establishment of IAVI’s Design Lab, New York City will make an additional contribution, not just to reduce and treat AIDS, but to reverse and ultimately end the pandemic.

 “With 7,500 people around the globe becoming newly infected with HIV every day, it’s clear that current prevention and treatment efforts, while critical, are not going to end the AIDS pandemic,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, President and CEO of IAVI. “We need a vaccine to bring an end to AIDS. I am hopeful that scientists at IAVI’s Design Lab, working together with partners around the world, will develop a new generation of AIDS vaccine candidates that will bring us closer to our goal of a world without AIDS.”

IAVI created the Design Lab, which is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center, to bridge the translational gap that exists between the basic research that is conducted in academic settings and the late-stage product development that occurs within the pharmaceutical industry. While academic researchers are in an ideal position to generate original vaccine concepts, they typically do not have the resources to translate these discoveries into actual vaccine candidates. The pharmaceutical industry has the resources and experience, but often lacks the profit incentive to invest in AIDS vaccine development, given that the scientific challenges appear cost prohibitive and that the market for an AIDS vaccine is mostly in the developing world.

Addressing this gap is one of the goals of IAVI’s Design Lab. The lab’s scientists, with external partners, will explore innovative ideas from academia, basic research and beyond, using the tried and true methods of industry to speed the development of a public good: an AIDS vaccine for use throughout the world.

“Collaboration is essential to driving scientific innovation,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the early supporters of IAVI. “Collaborative efforts like the Design Lab promise to accelerate progress toward an HIV vaccine, our best long-term hope for controlling the global AIDS epidemic.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) provided US$12 million for the construction of IAVI’s space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the site of the planned new bioscience center and a joint project of New York City, New York State and private entities. Working with the NYCEDC, IAVI has been able to raise an additional US$5 million in funds through federal tax programs to cover the costs of renovating the new facility.

“Bioscience is an important and growing sector in New York City’s economy,” said Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber. “Two major centers for commercial laboratory space, totaling more than one-and-a-half million square feet, are currently under construction in the City. We are excited that IAVI, as the first occupant of the new bioscience center at Brooklyn Army Terminal, will be working to help solve one of the greatest public health challenges we face today, both globally and right here in our backyard.”

An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV around the world today, a number equivalent to the populations of New York, Delhi, Lagos and London combined. AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death in the world and is number one in sub-Saharan Africa. A vaccine, even a partially-effective one, remains the world’s best hope for turning the tide on the pandemic.

To read the statement issued by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke on the opening of IAVI's AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in Brooklyn, click here. 

About IAVI

IAVI’s AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory was made possible thanks to many generous donors. These include the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Starr Foundation, The New York Community Trust, the James B. Pendleton Charitable Trust and the government of the Netherlands. Becton Dickinson (BD) and Thermo Fisher Scientific have also made generous product donations.

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 and operational in 24 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates. IAVI's financial and in-kind supporters include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, The John D. Evans Foundation, The New York Community Trust, the James B. Pendleton Charitable Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Starr Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Basque Autonomous Government as well as the European Union; multilateral organizations such as The World Bank; corporate donors including BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Continental Airlines, Google Inc., Henry Schein, Inc., Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer Inc and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.; leading AIDS charities such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Until There's A Cure Foundation; other private donors such as The Haas Trusts; and many generous individuals from around the world. For more information, visit www.iavi.org.  

About The New York City Economic Development Corporation

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities.

About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, the only academic medical center in Brooklyn, comprises Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Related Professions; a School of Graduate Studies; a Graduate Program in Public Health; and the University Hospital of Brooklyn. SUNY Downstate is a leader in clinical care for patients with or at risk for HIV/AIDS, with special services for women, children, and teenagers. Downstate also provides HIV/AIDS training programs for health care workers internationally.