February 23, 2004
NEW YORK, 23 February 2004—Dr. Robert Hecht has been appointed Senior Vice President of Public Policy at the not-for-profit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). Hecht, currently a senior official at the World Bank, will lead IAVI's efforts to develop and advocate for public policies to accelerate the development of a preventive AIDS vaccine and ensure that, when a successful vaccine is available, there will be global access. Hecht will join IAVI on 1 May.
IAVI President and CEO Dr. Seth Berkley, MD, said: "We are very pleased to have Rob join us at IAVI. He brings 25 years of experience in international development and global public health to IAVI and will lead our work to tackle key policy issues in developing an AIDS vaccine that will be accessible to all. On average, it takes more than 20 years for a vaccine to reach people in developing countries. This is unacceptable; at IAVI, we want to see that an AIDS vaccine reaches the tens of millions as soon as one is available.” IAVI's expanded public policy program will focus on issues including mobilizing public support for AIDS vaccine research; how best to provide incentives to industry to invest in AIDS vaccine research; and how to help create more efficient systems for developing countries to test and license AIDS vaccines and distribute them at affordable prices.
Hecht has had a 20-year tenure at the World Bank, most recently serving as Manager of the Bank’s central unit for Health, Nutrition, and Population, responsible for global strategies, knowledge, technical services and partnerships. His other positions at the Bank included Chief of Operations for the World Bank's Human Development Network, Principal Economist in the Latin America region and one of the authors of the 1993 World Development Report, "Investing in Health." From 1987 to 1996, Hecht was responsible for a number of the Bank’s studies and projects in health in several countries in Africa and Latin America, most notably in Zimbabwe and Argentina. In the late 1990s, Hecht served as an Associate Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
In addition to its public policy activities IAVI provides support to more than 25 private companies, academic laboratories and government institutions to conduct AIDS vaccine research and development. In exchange, partners agree that any successful vaccine will be made available in developing countries at reasonable prices. These partnerships have advanced five AIDS vaccine candidates from the concept stage to human trials. IAVI-sponsored trials of four of these candidates are underway in eight countries: Belgium, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.
IAVI (www.iavi.org) is a global not-for-profit organization working to speed the search for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS, focusing on developing countries. Founded in 1996 and operational in 22 countries, IAVI and its network of scientific partners research and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. IAVI also works to assure that a vaccine will be globally accessible. IAVI’s major financial supporters include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Rockefeller, Sloan and Starr foundations; the World Bank; BD (Becton, Dickinson & Co.); the European Commission; and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.