May 19, 2009
Emory, Australian Vaccine Centers Announce Alliance
A new Queensland-US Vaccine Technology Alliance will combine the expertise of two leading vaccine research centers – the Australian Centre for Vaccine Development (ACVD) at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and the Emory Vaccine Center (EVC) at Emory University in Atlanta.
The Alliance recently was awarded a three-year grant of $1.8M from the Smart Futures Fund of the Queensland National and International Research Alliances Program. Additional funding for the alliance will be provided by the ACVD and the EVC, with total project funding from all sources equaling $8.5M over three years.
The Queensland National and International Research Alliances Program supports research, development and innovation that includes collaboration between a Queensland research institution and a national or international partner.
By expanding existing academic and research links, the ACVD and EVC plan to establish an internationally recognized vaccine research program and develop intellectual capital in the area of vaccine technologies, leading to the development of new vaccines for human infectious diseases and cancers.
"Despite our success in developing vaccines, many challenges remain in the fight against chronic infections and cancer," says The Hon. Stephen Robertson MP, Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade. "This project will combine expertise from two leading vaccine research organizations in a collaboration that will uncover new technologies for developing and improving vaccines. Both organizations have strong links with the biotech industry and health institutions, which will help bring the research from bench to bedside, improving outcomes for patients."
Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of
the Emory Vaccine Center
"The prevention and treatment of emerging infectious diseases presents a worldwide challenge that makes international research collaboration essential," says Rafi Ahmed, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. "We are very pleased that the Emory Vaccine Center is able to partner with another outstanding international vaccine center, in Queensland, to further the research goals of both our institutions for the benefit of global public health."
The Emory Vaccine Center of Emory University is one of the largest academic vaccine centers in the world, and is renowned for its expertise in cellular immunity, immune memory, disease pathogenesis, vaccine research and development and clinical trials. The center was established in 1996 with strong support from Emory University School of Medicine and the Georgia Research Alliance. The Emory Vaccine Center has multiple sites on the Emory campus including The Hope Clinic for Vaccine Clinical Trials and the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, one of eight National Institutes of Health–funded national primate research centers, providing specialized scientific resources, expertise and training opportunities. In addition to Emory’s School of Medicine, the key partners of the EVC are the Yerkes Primate Research Center, Rollins School of Public Health, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Woodruff Health Sciences Center.
The Australian Centre for Vaccine Development is an internationally recognized vaccine research center with expertise in antigen discovery, international and national grants and links with the biotech industry. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research has world-class facilities for flow cytometry, imaging, a transgenic animal facility and a dedicated cGMP (good manufacturing practices) facility that will provide access to the production of clinical grade vaccines. ACVD scientists also link with the QIMR-based clinical trials facility Q-Pharm, which has extensive experience in all phases of pharmaceutical/vaccine trials.
ACVD and EVC have an existing Memorandum of Understanding that allows academic exchange to further promote scientific research in the field of vaccine development. Over the past 12 months, through a joint funding program, the EVC has hosted ACVD scientists for advanced training in vaccine technologies.
The new funding from the National and International Research Alliances program will significantly enhance the two vaccine centers’ collaborative research programs and allow them to leverage funding from various agencies and foundations for large-scale vaccine research and development. The alliance also will provide ACVD scientists an opportunity to access new biotech industry links in the United States and give both institutions enhanced links with the international pharmaceutical industry.
The Queensland-US Vaccine Technology Alliance will focus on immunomics and antigen discovery; novel adjuvants and vaccine formulations; cellular targets for effective vaccination/immunotherapy; clinical translation of novel immunotherapies; and molecular signatures for an effective vaccination/ immunotherapy.
The alliance aims to develop novel vaccines for infectious diseases such as Group A Streptococcus, hook worm, schistosomiasis, malaria, HIV, pox virus, cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus. It also plans to develop vaccines and cellular therapies for cancers such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, glioblastoma, melanoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition, the alliance will provide training for young Australian and U.S. scientists.
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.