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Leading Vaccine Discovery Expert Joins the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

May 05, 2009

NEW YORK, May 5, 2009─Dr. C. Richter (Rick) King, former Senior Vice President of Research at GenVec, Inc., has joined the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) as Vice President of Vaccine Discovery.  In his new position, Dr. King will play a vital role in leading and managing IAVI’s global vaccine discovery initiatives in support of IAVI’s mission: to ensure the development of a safe, effective, accessible and preventive AIDS vaccine.

A biochemist by training, Dr. King received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University and his BS from the University of St. Andrews.  He has worked in government, academia and in industry, and is well known for his innovative discoveries in cancer biology.  He played an integral role in the discovery of a molecular abnormality that occurs with certain breast cancers.  This breakthrough led to the development of better diagnostic tools and targeted treatments for breast cancer.

For the past decade, Dr. King’s role at GenVec has been to translate scientific discovery into experimental treatments and preventative agents for unmet medical needs.  He has led the company’s efforts in the identification, selection and advancement of products for cancer, ocular and infectious disease applications.  These include a therapeutic for pancreatic cancer currently in Phase III clinical trial, a therapeutic for age-related macular degeneration in Phase Ib trials, and viral vector based vaccines for prevention of malaria and HIV currently in Phase I/II trials.  Dr. King has been the author and recipient of many peer reviewed grants, is an inventor on 12 issued patents, and has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications.

“We are excited to have a scientist of Dr. King’s caliber join our research and development team,” said Dr. Wayne Koff, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at IAVI.  “Dr. King’s experience will prove indispensable in leading our global efforts to design and prioritize novel AIDS vaccine strategies.”

“One of the biggest challenges of any vaccine discovery effort is determining the vaccine candidates that are worth pursuing and those that are not,” said King.  “My job at IAVI will be to work together with IAVI scientists and partners to do just that.  There are several innovative vaccine candidates currently in pre-clinical development at IAVI, and I hope to help bring the most promising ones into human testing over the next few years.”

As evidence has grown that creating an effective AIDS vaccine requires more applied research aimed at solving the key scientific problems impeding AIDS vaccine development, IAVI has significantly expanded its vaccine discovery portfolio.  Dr. King will oversee a comprehensive AIDS vaccine discovery program that now includes:

an Innovation Fund focused on supporting novel vaccine discovery platforms from industry
a Human Immunology Laboratory in London linked to partnered Clinical Research Centers in the developing world focused on translating clues from HIV infection to vaccine discovery
an AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory in New York focused on the design and prioritization of novel vaccine platforms and the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California focused on solving the problem of how to create a vaccine that elicits antibodies capable of neutralizing HIV.

To date, there have only been two AIDS vaccine candidates that have been fully tested in human efficacy trials; both proved ineffective at preventing or controlling HIV infection.  With 2.5 million people infected with HIV each year, there remains an urgent need for a safe and effective AIDS vaccine.

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 was founded with the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Starr Foundation, and Until There's A Cure Foundation.  Other major supporters include 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 Governments of Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Basque Autonomous Government, the European Union as well as The City of New York, Economic Development Corporation; 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; other private donors such as The Haas Trusts; and many generous individuals from around the world.  For more information, see www.iavi.org.