August 15, 2017

IAVI Partnership with MSD Aims to Improve HIV Prevention for People Who Need it Most

Engaging communities to better understand the future of HIV prevention.

IAVI ramped up its efforts to engage communities to better understand the future of HIV prevention this month with the addition of three Richard T. Clark (RTC) Fellows as part of the 2017 MSD Fellowship for Global Health.

The program seeks to build non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) capacity and to make sustainable and systematic improvements in health-service delivery for people in greatest need. IAVI was one of 10 NGOs selected to participate in the program this year, and the Fellows will support IAVI’s mission to develop HIV vaccines and other prevention modalities for people who bear the greatest burden of HIV globally – particularly women, youth, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and mobile communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

IAVI-Merck Fellows 20172017 Richard T. Clark Fellows Maggie Chan, Kieta Mutepfa, and Jan Weissflog of MSD

“Members of these populations face intense social stigma and other barriers that make it difficult or impossible for them to access or adhere to currently available prevention methods. With more biomedical prevention options coming to market in the next few years, it’s paramount to understand the preferences and challenges of those most at risk for HIV infection,” said Maggie Keane, Vice President, Global Alliances and Product Development at IAVI. “IAVI’s deeply rooted research partnerships in Africa combined with insights from the highly qualified RTC Fellows can serve to foster innovation in HIV prevention.”

The MSD Fellows for Global Health: Maggie Chan, Kieta Mutepfa and Jan Weissflog outside of IAVI clinical research center parter Aurum Institute in South AfricaOver the next three months the RTC Fellows will leverage industry approaches to develop a framework and tools to help better understand the people and places most in need of emerging HIV prevention technologies. As part of their assessment, the Fellows will conduct interviews with community members, researchers, government officials, and IAVI’s clinical research center partners in Kenya and South Africa. In turn, the Fellows will train IAVI staff to use these approaches, which can be adapted for IAVI initiatives.

Learn more about the Fellowship for Global Health, MSD’s three-month, field-based corporate pro bono program designed to leverage the skills and talents of MSD* employees to support NGOs.

“We can create a healthier world”

The Fellows bring diverse experience and professional backgrounds to ensure a productive partnership between IAVI and MSD.

Maggie Chan is a pharmacist by training and joined MSD in Singapore as a Medical Affairs Associate in 2009. In her four years in that role, she managed medical legal review of promotional materials, advised on medical inquiries and conducted hospital talks and internal trainings for various franchises. In 2013 she became an Associate Product Manager for the cardiovascular franchise in Singapore and the following year she was appointed the Local Business Practice Officer for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. A strong interest in global health led her to earn a master’s degree in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2013 and also led her to IAVI. “We can create a healthier world by strategically collaborating on the most impactful areas of human health – HIV prevention is one of them,” she said.

Joining IAVI from New Orleans, Kieta Mutepfa is a social worker by training, with a concentration in children, families, and community development. At MSD she is a Virology Community Liaison and translates scientific information to educate adult learners about current HIV and Hepatitis C research, science, and treatment modalities and opportunities. “Having worked with HIV/AIDS patients for nearly 25 years,” she said, “I am overjoyed to support IAVI in shifting the HIV prevention pendulum toward a world without AIDS.” Previously, Kieta was Community Health Program Representative for the UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education (CARE). She also served with the Peace Corps in Mozambique and volunteered with an AIDS hospice in Los Angeles in the early 1990s.

Jan Weissflog is Manager of Health Policy in the Department of Health Policy & Communications for MSD in Berlin, Germany. He is responsible for stakeholder engagement, strategic planning and political communication in the field of infectious diseases, particularly with regard to vaccines-preventable diseases, prevention and therapy of HIV, hepatitis, and antimicrobial resistance. He has served in similar roles with Advice Partners Management Consultancy and the German Association for Regenerative Medicine. Jan holds diplomas in public administration and political science and is passionate about advancing public health: “Improvements in drug delivery mean that HIV is no longer a death sentence for many, but we must continue to innovate if we want to end the epidemic.”

Follow the Fellows’ journies on Twitter via @IAVI or the hashtags #RTCFellows and #MSDFellowship.

*MSD is known as Merck in the United States and Canada.