The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center has appointed Mark J. Mulligan, MD, an internationally recognized leader in vaccine clinical trials, as Executive Director. Dr. Mulligan will also serve as Associate Director for Clinical Trials at the Emory Vaccine Center and will further develop its successful human clinical trials program into one of the premier translational and clinical vaccine testing programs in the world.
The Hope Clinic, located in downtown Decatur near the Emory University campus, was created in 2002 to conduct clinical trials of promising new vaccines and other biomedical prevention strategies for challenging infectious diseases. The Emory Vaccine Center, part of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory University School of Medicine, was established in 1997 and is home to one of the nation's largest and most respected basic and preclinical vaccine research programs. The Hope Clinic has become one of the leading clinical vaccine trial sites in the country. It is one of the top enrolling sites nationally for the Merck Phase IIb human clinical trial, widely considered the leading candidate HIV vaccine.
"Emory University is a world leader in vaccine research, and presents a tremendous opportunity," said Dr. Mulligan. "My vision is to build on the existing strengths of the Hope Clinic, which are many, to become an international center of excellence in clinical and translational vaccine research."
In 1994 Dr. Mulligan founded the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he worked for 20 years. His early work in molecular virology with Richard W. Compans, PhD, formerly at UAB and currently chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Emory University School of Medicine, was supported by a prestigious NIH Physician-Scientist Award (1988-93) and an AmFAR Research Award (1993-94).
From 1994 to 2000, Dr. Mulligan served as principal investigator for the NIH-sponsored Alabama AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Unit (AVEU), at the time one of only six national units performing human trials of HIV-1 preventive vaccine candidates. Through his roles on the executive committee of the AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group and the Vaccine Leadership Group of the NIH-sponsored HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), he became a respected leader in defining the scientific research agenda for clinical trials of HIV vaccines. From 2000 to 2004 he was principal investigator of the UAB HIV Vaccine Trials Unit (HVTU), one of ten original units of the HVTN, which now comprises nearly 30 units.
Dr. Mulligan's vaccine clinic participated in the first large-scale effort to test an HIV vaccine at the Phase III level - the VaxGen trial. Dr. Mulligan also headed the first human clinical trial of the HIV vaccine developed by Harriet Robinson, PhD, at Yerkes Research Center and the Emory Vaccine Center.
Under Dr. Mulligan's leadership the Hope Clinic will continue to conduct clinical trials of preventive vaccines. In addition to HIV vaccines, the clinic will expand its focus to include other emerging infections, such as avian flu, West Nile virus, SARS, or ebola. The clinic's funding base will expand to include more federally supported programs and will continue its ongoing collaborations with industry partners.
"We also are committed to training the next generation of clinical and translational vaccine researchers, and we will develop a program that emphasizes the training of postdoctoral fellows, junior faculty, and minority and international investigators and staff," Dr. Mulligan emphasized. "In our recruiting and education programs, we will reach out to and be inclusive of the communities most affected by the infectious diseases we are fighting. For HIV vaccine research in Atlanta, that means a strong commitment to the African-American community, which continues to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS."
"In many ways Atlanta is a mecca for an infectious disease academician," Dr. Mulligan says. "The combination of Emory University and its fine infectious diseases division, the Emory Vaccine Center, the CDC, and a population of 4.5 million in the metro area makes this a very exciting place to come to work."
Interested persons and/or potential vaccine trial volunteers can learn more by contacting the Hope Clinic at 877-424-HOPE (4673) or www.hopeclinic.emory.edu