GeoVax Labs, a biotechnology company specializing in developing human vaccines, has announced the formation of its inaugural Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to provide expert guidance as the company advances its vaccine development for multiple targets including HIV, hemorrhagic fever (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Lassa), Zika virus, chronic Hepatitis B and immuno-oncology.
Robert T. McNally, Ph.D., GeoVax's president and chief executive officer, commented, "GeoVax has had a long-standing Clinical Trial Advisory Board with ad hoc members providing guidance to our HIV vaccine clinical trial strategy. Now, as we expand our vaccine development focus to include additional targets for world health, we have formed a formal Scientific Advisory Board to provide broader advice and insight into our programs."
Farshad Guirakhoo, Ph.D., GeoVax's chief scientific officer, said, "The formation of this excellent group of advisors demonstrates our commitment to robust science and thoughtful product development strategies. We are honored to have this elite group of industry, academic, and government experts providing scientific guidance. Each member brings a unique set of skills and experience to our SAB and I look forward to working closely with this group as we advance the GeoVax mission to address significant unmet medical needs."
Inaugural members of the SAB include:
Thomas P. Monath, M.D., (chairman). Dr. Monath currently serves as chief scientific officer and chief operating officer of BioProtection Systems, a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics, where he is leading the development of an Ebola virus vaccine in partnership with Merck. Prior to joining NewLink, Dr. Monath held various industry roles at PaxVax, Hookipa Biotech, Juvaris, Xcellerex and Acambis prior to its acquisition by Sanofi Pasteur. In these roles, he led the development of a broad array of vaccines, including those against influenza, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, yellow fever, cytomegalo and smallpox viruses, as well as against Helicobacter pylori and Clostridium difficile; four of these are now licensed. He is a former partner of the Pandemic and Bio Defense Fund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm with a strong life sciences practice.
He joined the biotechnology industry following a 20-year career at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases. Dr. Monath received his undergraduate and medical degrees at Harvard, was awarded virology fellowships at the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria and at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and completed residencies in medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.
Stanley A. Plotkin, M.D. Dr. Plotkin is Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, M.D. Until 1991, he was Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor of Virology at the Wistar Institute, and at the same time, Director of Infectious Diseases and Senior Physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. In 1991, Dr. Plotkin left the University to join the vaccine manufacturer Pasteur-Mérieux-Connaught (now Sanofi Pasteur), based in Marnes-la-Coquette, outside Paris, where he held the title of Medical and Scientific Director for seven years.
Dr. Plotkin developed the rubella vaccine now in standard use throughout the world, is co-developer of the pentavalent rotavirus vaccine, and has worked extensively on the development and application of other vaccines including anthrax, oral polio, rabies, varicella and cytomegalovirus.
He is a consultant to vaccine manufacturers, biotechnology companies, and non-profit research organizations as principal of Vaxconsult. Dr. Plotkin attended New York University, where he received a B.A. degree, and the State University of New York Medical School in Brooklyn, where he received an M.D. degree in 1956. He has been chairman of the Infectious Diseases Committee and the AIDS Task Force of the American Academy of Pediatrics, liaison member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Chairman of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research Committee of the National Institutes of Health.
Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Graham is Senior Investigator at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), NIAID, NIH, Bethesda, M.D. Dr. Graham is an immunologist, virologist, and clinical trials physician whose primary interests are viral pathogenesis, immunity, and vaccine development. His work is focused on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, coronaviruses, HIV, and other emerging viral diseases. After graduating from Rice University, Houston, Texas, he obtained his M.D. from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1979. He then completed residency and two chief residencies in Internal Medicine, a fellowship in Infectious Diseases, and a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine with a joint appointment in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.
In 2000, he became one of the founding investigators for the NIAID VRC at NIH, where he is now the Deputy Director and Chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory, and oversees the advanced development of VRC candidate vaccine products. He serves as a consultant for organizations involved in vaccine development for HIV, Tb, malaria, RSV and emerging viral pathogens. His laboratory investigates basic mechanisms by which T cells affect viral clearance and immunopathology, explores mechanisms of antibody-mediated viral neutralization, and develops vaccine approaches against respiratory virus infections and emerging viral diseases.
Scott C. Weaver, Ph.D. Dr. Weaver is director of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Institute for Human Infections and Immunity and the Scientific Director of the Galveston National Laboratory. Dr. Weaver, an internationally recognized virologist and vector biologist, studies arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses), their transmission by mosquitoes, and develops vaccines to control the diseases that they cause. His research encompasses the ecology and epidemiology of enzootic arbovirus transmission cycles, virus-mosquito interactions, pathogenesis, and emergence mechanisms of epidemic strains. He has also developed new vaccines against several alphaviruses; the chikungunya vaccine developed in his laboratory, licensed to Takeda Pharmaceuticals and patented in 19 countries, is in late preclinical development.
In 2014, Dr. Weaver received the Walter Reed Medal, awarded every three years by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for distinguished career accomplishments in tropical medicine research. His many national and international leadership roles include his current role as Chair of the Global Virus Network's Chikungunya and Zika Task Forces. He also serves as an editor for several major tropical medicine and microbiology journals.
Olivera (Olja) J. Finn, Ph.D. Dr. Finn is University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Professor of Immunology and Surgery and Founding Chair of the Department of Immunology, a position she held from 2001 to 2013. She was Program Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 1991 to 2014. After receiving her Ph.D. in Immunology at Stanford University in 1980, and completing her postdoctoral training there, Dr. Finn moved to Duke University and in 1991 to the University of Pittsburgh. She gained prominence through her original focus on transplantation biology and later through her basic and applied research focused on tumor antigens and the development of cancer vaccines.
She is the discoverer of the MUC1 tumor antigen, and has published extensively and continuously for the last 25 years on her basic and preclinical work on the development and evaluation of MUC1 cancer vaccines. She has been a co-investigator on a dozen clinical trials of various MUC1 vaccines in pancreatic, colon, breast, prostate, and lung cancers. Dr. Finn and her team also identified cyclin B1 as a tumor antigen and published several papers on its potential as a cancer vaccine.
She is on the editorial board of various cancer journals and on the advisory board of numerous cancer centers and several companies. She is an active member of the American Association of Immunologists where she served seven years as Council member and one year as President; a member of the American Association for Cancer Research; and past Chair of the Steering Committee of the AACR Cancer Immunology (CIMM) Working Group.
GeoVax Labs is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing human vaccines against infectious diseases using its Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Virus Like Particle (MVA-VLP) vaccine platform. The company's development programs are focused on vaccines against HIV, Zika Virus and hemorrhagic fever viruses (Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa). GeoVax also recently began programs to evaluate the use of its MVA-VLP platform in cancer immunotherapy, and for therapeutic use in chronic Hepatitis B infections. GeoVax's vaccine platform supports in vivoproduction of non-infectious VLPs from the cells of the very person receiving the vaccine, mimicking a natural infection, stimulating both the humoral and cellular arms of the immune system to recognize, prevent, and control the target infection.