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Leading Vaccine Expert Joins IAVI

July 03, 2008

NEW YORK, July 3, 2008—Dr. Thomas Hassell, former global vice president of process development at sanofi pasteur, the largest vaccine company worldwide, has joined IAVI as vice president for vaccine development. In his new role, Dr. Hassell will lead IAVI’s product development efforts that are aimed at rapidly advancing promising vaccine candidates that emerge from the organization’s vaccine discovery programs.  

Dr. Hassell is trained as a microbiologist and received his PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom in 1987. He completed his post-doctorate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in 1989.  He has 20 years of experience within industry, working for several leading vaccine developers taking early-stage vaccine candidates all the way through to licensure.

“If we are to defeat AIDS once and for all, we need a vaccine. To develop a vaccine, we need to translate promising concepts into candidates that are tested in humans. My job at IAVI is to make this happen as quickly and safely as possible,” said Dr. Hassell.

At sanofi pasteur, Dr. Hassell led a team of 250 researchers who developed vaccines that have been licensed worldwide. Most recently, Dr. Hassell assisted in the national licensure of Pentacel, a childhood combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, and polio, and Menactra, the first conjugate vaccine to provide protection against four strains, A,C,Y and W, of bacterial meningitis. Dr. Hassell also oversaw the launch of a series of new, state-of-the-art vaccine development facilities in Canada, France and the United States that have enabled sanofi pasteur to better support their existing vaccine portfolio, as well as to allow more rapid development of their new vaccines. 

After a vaccine candidate proves promising in pre-clinical animal studies, many steps are required to translate that concept into a vaccine that can be tested in humans and ultimately produced on a large scale for late-stage testing and ultimately licensure. Dr. Hassell comes from one of very few companies that has the expertise to research, develop, license, manufacture and distribute new vaccines. This experience will help IAVI to rapidly bring promising concepts that emerge from its AIDS Vaccine Development Laboratory into the clinic for testing in humans.

To date, there have only been two AIDS vaccine candidates that have been fully tested, and both have failed in efficacy trials. With 2.5 million people becoming newly infected with HIV each year, there is an urgent need to develop and rapidly advance promising vaccine candidates into testing to accelerate the development of an effective AIDS vaccine. IAVI created its AIDS Vaccine Development Laboratory to systematically test novel vaccine vectors and promising antigens that will ultimately form the foundation of the next generation of AIDS vaccine candidates. Dr. Hassell will work to ensure that these promising vaccine approaches are successfully translated into viable vaccine candidates for testing.

About IAVI

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 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Governments of Canada, Denmark, 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. and Pfizer 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, see www.iavi.org.