The Human Vaccines Project has named Dr. Wayne C. Koff, Ph.D. as its first President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Dr. Koff joins the Project from the International AIDS Vaccines Initiative (IAVI), where he served for over 17 years, most recently as its Chief Scientific Officer.
“We are entering a transformative period in the fields of immunology and vaccine design driven by a host of groundbreaking technologies,” said Nobel Laureate Dr. Peter Doherty, a member of the Project’s Scientific Steering Committee. “The time has come for a large-scale scientific initiative such as the Human Vaccines Project to harness these technologies towards accelerating development of next generation vaccines and immunotherapies. Those of us who have had the privilege of working with him in the past are delighted that Dr. Wayne Koff will be the CEO of this extraordinary new initiative and look forward to extending our association in this exciting enterprise aimed at improving the life prospects of all human beings.”
While at IAVI, Dr. Koff played a central role in the creation and expansion of IAVI’s R&D program that spanned R&D efforts in 20 plus countries, and included the establishment of the Neutralizing Antibody Consortium in 2001 that went on to discover a wide range of potent and new HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies that have led to the identification of novel and promising targets for HIV vaccine discovery. Prior to working at IAVI, Dr. Koff served as Vice President of Vaccine Research and Development at United Biomedical Inc. (UBI), which conducted some of the first HIV vaccine trials in the developing world.
Dr. Koff also served as Chief of the Vaccine Research and Development branch, Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“It is becoming increasingly clear that by directing the human immune system through vaccines and immunotherapies, we now have the potential to prevent or treat a wide range of complex diseases from HIV, to emerging pathogens such as Zika, to multiple autoimmune disorders and cancers,” said Dr. Koff. “Our goal at the Project is accelerate product development by overcoming key limitations in our current understanding of human immunity. By creating a unique global research consortium, consisting of pharma and biotech companies, vaccine research centers, industry players in artificial intelligence and machine learning, government and NGO laboratories, we have the potential for ushering in a new era of vaccine and immunotherapeutic development.”
The Project has recently completed its catalytic stage of development where it established key partnerships of its global consortium, and secured startup financing. Over the coming months the Project will launch its first scientific studies, establish its bioinformatics and data management core, and complete the development of its consortium.
“Dr. Koff has been a leader in the field of vaccines for over 25 years, and we are delighted to announce that he will be serving as the organization’s President and CEO,” said Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Board Chair of the Human Vaccines Project and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. “As Founder of the Project, and with extensive experience in building innovative global research consortia, Dr. Koff is the ideal candidate to lead this ambitious effort which seeks to accelerate vaccine development for a wide range of diseases through a more comprehensive understanding of human immunity.”