Two international leaders in vaccine science and technology--the Emory Vaccine Center and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)--have joined forces to launch the Joint ICGEB-Emory Vaccine Center in New Delhi, India. The center will be dedicated to vaccine research focused on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, dengue virus, malaria and other infectious diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world.
India has 2.5 million people living with HIV, and tuberculosis remains the largest single cause of death in India, with 1.7 million new cases annually.
"This new vaccine center joins the unique expertise of leading scientists at our two institutions to create a major international research collaboration," says Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of Emory University School of Medicine. "I have every expectation that this new joint vaccine center will have a significant impact on future vaccine discoveries aimed at fighting the most difficult infectious diseases."
Emory University will provide the funding to support scientific staff in the joint New Delhi center, and ICGEB will provide space and infrastructure. Both partners will contribute their scientific expertise in vaccine research and development. Collaborations could eventually expand beyond New Delhi to ICGEB components in other countries.
The new Joint ICGEB-Emory Vaccine Center also is a primary focus of the Emory Global Health Institute, a University-wide initiative that fosters international partnerships to address challenging health problems.
Emory University School of Medicine is recruiting faculty members to establish cutting edge research programs at the joint center in India. The Emory scientists will have the opportunity for close and productive collaboration with scientists at the ICGEB.
The joint vaccine center in New Delhi will be housed in a new 5,000-sq. ft core immunology laboratory as well as other facilities including a level-3 biosafety laboratory.
ICGEB's excellent scientific reputation in India promises access to other government research institutions and a close relationship with Indian vaccine companies and institutions experienced in production and clinical trials. India leads the world in quantities of vaccines produced.
Collaborations among scientists in the two institutions already exist. For example, a malaria vaccine candidate developed at ICGEB in New Delhi has been tested in monkeys at Emory's Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and work on an HIV vaccine targeting clade C (the primary HIV strain in India) is underway.
"This joint international research center will provide unique opportunities for collaborative research in vaccine development that go beyond what currently is available," says Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. "Together, we plan to develop new vaccines and help move them from the laboratory through complex testing, approval and manufacture to local health centers where they can benefit individuals with the greatest need."
The Emory Vaccine Center, established in 1995 on the Emory University campus in Atlanta, comprises one of the largest worldwide concentrations of vaccine investigators within an academic medical center. It is the focus of research in immunology and vaccines within Emory University School of Medicine, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Rollins School of Public Health and the Emory Center for AIDS Research.
Emory scientists are at the forefront of vaccine development for malaria, hepatitis C, influenza and cytomegalovirus. The Emory Vaccine Center was the first university-based center in the United States to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate being tested in human clinical trials. Emory's Hope Clinic is one of the nation's top sites for vaccine testing.
Emory University has a long history of involvement in global health. In addition to Emory's Global Health Institute, the Hubert Department of Global Health in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health conducts research, performs outreach and trains researchers and public health practitioners to combat diseases in countries around the world.
Through strong research partnerships, Emory works with scientists at the nearby Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address global issues related to vaccine development and immunization policy and practices. Emory also collaborates on global health issues with Atlanta-based organizations The Carter Center and CARE. Emory is a member of the Georgia Research Alliance, a partnership of academic research universities, industry and state government that recently launched a new statewide initiative for vaccine development.
ICGEB is an inter-governmental organization established as a center of excellence for research and training in molecular biology and biotechnology with special regard for the needs of the developing world. Founded by the World Health Organization, ICGEB has campuses in New Delhi, in Trieste, Italy, and in Cape Town, South Africa. It works with 100 partner countries and has the support of the Indian government and industry as well as the Indian National Institutes of Health.
The primary objectives of the Joint ICGEB-Emory Vaccine Center are to conduct basic research on viruses and immune responses and ways to determine if a vaccine has a protective effect; develop vaccines and test them in the lab and ultimately in humans; partner with the Indian Ministry of Science and the Indian Council of Medical Research to develop and implement clinical trials for vaccine safety and effectiveness; develop policies for safe global vaccine use and delivery; and enhance vaccine development and implementation in India through continuing education.