February 28, 2014

Two Leading Research Institutions Partner to Accelerate the Development of an AIDS Vaccine Candidate

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Ragon Institute Signed Memorandum of Understanding to Collaborate on AIDS Vaccine Research

NEW YORK, October 16, 2009 ─The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ragon Institute to accelerate the development of new and promising AIDS vaccine candidates for testing.  Formed in February 2009, the Ragon Institute was officially established at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to help bring fresh perspectives and encourage cross-disciplinary collaborations to contribute to the discovery of an HIV/AIDS vaccine.

As part of this partnership, the Ragon Institute and IAVI will work together to identify promising concepts generated by the Institute that can be further developed and ultimately advanced to clinical trials with technical support from IAVI. In addition, this partnership is intended to facilitate productive exchanges among leading researchers affiliated with both IAVI and its network of scientific consortia and the Ragon Institute.

“We are honored to be working with the Ragon Institute and hope that this collaborative approach will take us a step further in devising new vaccine strategies and candidates to defeat HIV,” said Seth Berkley, MD, President and CEO of IAVI.  “AIDS knows no boundaries, and neither should the scientists working to develop a vaccine to bring an end to one of the world’s leading killers.”

“This partnership offers great promise to help accelerate progress towards developing a vaccine to stop the AIDS pandemic,” said Phillip T. Ragon, who together with his wife Susan provided the funding to establish the Ragon Institute.  “With declining interest in vaccines by pharmaceutical companies, public- private product development partnerships (PDPs) like IAVI have become a critical resource.   This partnership will be indispensable in providing the speed, flexibility and technical expertise to advance promising early-stage concepts that will arise from the scientists at the Ragon Institute.  As someone personally committed to helping solve the AIDS problem, I am excited to have this relationship with IAVI to help us move forward with the greatest possible speed.”

According to the Global Forum for Health Research, PDPs play an important role in addressing the widening gap in the availability of medicines and vaccines for neglected diseases.  PDPs bring together skills, knowledge and resources from a variety of sectors including academia, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropists, government and intergovernmental agencies, as well as members of the for-profit private sector such as pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and apply them to solving some of the major global health challenges facing us today.

“Traditionally, it has been very difficult to convince the private sector to invest in medicines and vaccines for neglected diseases,” said Bruce Walker, MD, an MGH physician-investigator and director of the Ragon Institute.  “I look forward to addressing this critical gap in AIDS vaccine discovery with IAVI, which has the technical expertise that will enable us to quickly advance the best concepts coming out of the Ragon Institute into clinical trials.”

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 25 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.