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World class AIDS vaccine researcher Emilio Emini joins IAVI

January 13, 2004

NEW YORK, 13 January 2004—Emilio A. Emini, Ph.D., a globally recognized expert in AIDS and vaccines, has joined the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) as Senior Vice President and Chief of Vaccine Development. Dr. Emini will oversee IAVI’s partnership programs to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. An effective vaccine is the best hope for stopping the continuing spread of the epidemic.

Dr. Emini joins the nonprofit IAVI after 20 years at Merck & Co., Inc., where he gained recognition as one of the world’s preeminent AIDS vaccine scientists. He is credited for leading the pharmaceutical giant’s AIDS vaccine efforts, advancing five different vaccine candidates to human trials. In addition to searching for an AIDS vaccine, Dr. Emini led the Merck team that developed one of the first highly effective antiretroviral agents for the treatment of people living with HIV.

As Merck’s Senior Vice President of Vaccine Research, Dr. Emini was responsible for Merck’s overall basic vaccine research program including diseases other than AIDS.

IAVI President and CEO Seth Berkley, M.D., said: “Dr. Emini brings drive, dedication and experience in large-scale vaccine development from his distinguished career at a leading pharmaceutical company. He will help IAVI navigate the way forward given the complexities of finding an AIDS vaccine.”

At IAVI, Dr. Emini will work alongside Wayne Koff, Ph.D., who has been appointed Senior Vice President and Chief of Vaccine Research. Since 1999, Dr. Koff has led all of IAVI’s research and development programs, which together with a network of partnerships have advanced five different AIDS vaccine candidates from the concept stage to human trials. IAVI-sponsored trials of four of these candidates are underway in seven countries: Belgium, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Dr. Koff will now focus efforts on addressing the major scientific challenges currently impeding AIDS vaccine development, and will oversee IAVI’s research agenda to identify the next generation of promising vaccine concepts. Dr. Emini will focus on developing these concepts into vaccine candidates that are tested in human trials, and accelerating the most promising to large-scale efficacy trials and eventual licensure.

Geoffrey Lamb, IAVI Board Chair and World Bank Vice President of Resource Mobilization and Cofinancing, said, “With both Dr. Emini and Dr. Koff on board, IAVI advances to a new level of leadership and continues to invigorate the field.”

IAVI currently provides support for more than 25 private companies, academic laboratories and government institutions to conduct AIDS vaccine R&D. In exchange, these partners agree that any successful vaccine will be made available in developing countries at reasonable prices.

Despite a record number of AIDS vaccine candidates moving into trials, the global research and development effort still is inadequate. On the research front, major scientific challenges must be solved and more promising candidates must be identified, and on the development front, these candidates must be speedily tested in more and larger trials. Dr. Emini brings his extensive vaccine development skills to the challenges of improving upon the current portfolio of candidates, and together with Dr. Koff will lead the effort to design, develop and test the next generation of candidates.

About IAVI
IAVI is a global nonprofit organization working to speed the search for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. Founded in 1996 and operational in 22 countries, IAVI and its network of scientific partnerships research and develop AIDS vaccine candidates. IAVI also advocates that a vaccine will be accessible to all without delay. 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.

Emilio A. Emini, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Chief of Vaccine Development

Dr. Emini, IAVI’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Vaccine Development, oversees the organization’s partnership programs to develop vaccine candidates to prevent HIV infection and AIDS.

Dr. Emini is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading AIDS and vaccine scientists, having spent 20 years working on R&D of both vaccines and therapeutics at Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. As head of the vaccine and biologics research area, he oversaw Merck’s R&D programs for vaccines for AIDS and a number of other infectious diseases, including human papillomavirus (a cause of cervical cancer), rotavirus (a cause of infant diarrhea and dehydration) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

As Executive Director, Department of Antiviral Research, he oversaw Merck’s discovery and development of Crixivan (indinavir), one of the first protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV disease. He also led the team that discovered Stocrin (efavirenz), a reverse transcriptase inhibitor that is a widely used anti-HIV therapeutic agent. Dr. Emini’s research has resulted in multiple granted patents.

In 2003, Dr. Emini was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology for his contributions in the area of HIV/AIDS. He is a member of many scientific journal editorial boards and conference organizing committees, and has served as consultant to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Office of AIDS Research. In 2002 he was named one of Scientific American’s 50 technology leaders for his efforts to develop a vaccine for AIDS.

Dr. Emini is the author of more than 300 scientific papers. He has published extensively on the immunobiology of HIV infection and on viral resistance to anti-HIV therapeutic agents in the world’s leading scientific journals, including Science, Nature, Virology, The Journal of Virology and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Emini is the editor of The Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Biology, Immunology and Therapy (Princeton University Press, 2002), a comprehensive overview of the diverse areas that constitute HIV/AIDS research.

Dr. Emini is Adjunct Professor at the Hahnemann School of Medicine of Drexel University. He holds a Ph.D. in virology, with minors in genetics and biochemistry, from Cornell University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences.