Newswise — The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced that Alash'le Abimiku, PhD, Professor of Medicine of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a Global Virus Network (GVN) Center of Excellence, will join their Scientific Advisory Committee for three-years. Dr. Abimiku, who is also the Executive Director of International Research Center of Excellence at the Institute of Human Virology-Nigeria, joins 33 other members, ranging from immunologists, preclinical researchers, clinical trial experts, industry partners, and global health professionals.
The Scientific Advisory Committee is an independent advisory body that meets quarterly to provide scientific support, advice, and guidance to CEPI staff and the CEPI Board. CEPI supports research and development programs in response to infectious outbreaks, the current COVID-19 pandemic, and future pandemics, as well.
“I am honored to be selected to join the Committee, as CEPI is a unique organization with a successful track record of brokering collaborations between researchers, industry, governments, health ministries, and communities to determine what emerging diseases need vaccines, and then supporting the development, manufacturing and distributing of these vaccines to communities globally,” said Dr. Abimiku.
Dr. Abimiku’s expertise and background lie in emerging diseases of West Africa, such as tuberculosis, HIV, Lassi fever, and Ebola.
“Because of my experience working on cutting edge science and research at NIH and subsequently at IHV, I have better appreciation on the need to apply that research on international public health challenges in Africa which gives me a unique vantage point to bridge these two worlds,” said Dr. Abimiku. “I have a unique opportunity to be a voice that represents the African community, because I understand the culture and issues of priority discussed in the community.”
“Alash’le came to work with me when I was at NCI of NIH as a budding young doctor from Nigeria filled with desire to make a difference for Africa via medical science. She was my first post-doctoral fellow from Africa and indeed my first contact with Africa,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Human Virology and GVN Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor. “After we formed the IHV in Baltimore, she catalyzed the burgeoning and ever closer relationship IHV developed with Africa originally being fostered in Public Health by Institute co-founders, Bill Blattner and Bob Redfield, and now led by Man Charurat through Ciheb. It is a great story, and Alash’le is in its center.”
“Dr. Abimiku has been a driving force in the IHV’s and Ciheb’s Pan-African initiative for emerging infectious diseases. Her appointment to CEPI is a testament to the high scientific stature in which Dr. Abimiku is recognized in the global health community and hails her impactful work in vaccines, surveillance, and laboratory diagnostics in Africa,” said Man E. Charurat, PhD, MHS, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division Director Of Epidemiology & Prevention at the Institute Of Human Virology, and Director of Center for International Health Education and Biosecurity (Ciheb) founded at the Institute and within the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“We look forward to working with our new colleagues who, through their scientific flair and creativity, will be instrumental in guiding us and the world forward in our response to epidemic and pandemic disease,” said Richard Hatchett, MD, Chief Executive Officer of CEPI. “In selecting our new members, we have created a global forum of voices with diverse scientific and cultural input to build on the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and catalyze progress tackling the global health challenges that lie ahead of us.”
Find out more about CEPI’s Scientific Advisory Committee here.
About the Institute of Human Virology
Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Medical System, the IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. The IHV combines the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology, and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably, HIV the virus that causes AIDS. For more information, visit www.ihv.org and follow us on Twitter @IHVmaryland.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines against future epidemics. Prior to COVID-19 CEPI’s work focused on developing vaccines against Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever virus and Chikungunya virus – it has over 20 vaccine candidates against these pathogens in development. CEPI has also invested in new platform technologies for rapid vaccine development against unknown pathogens (Disease X).
During the current pandemic, CEPI initiated multiple programmes to develop vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants with a focus on speed, scale and access. These programmes leverage the rapid response platforms previously developed by CEPI’s partners prior to the emergence of COVID-19 as well as new collaborations. The aim is to advance clinical development of a diverse portfolio of safe and effective COVID-19 candidates and to enable fair allocation to these vaccines worldwide through COVAX.
CEPI’s 5-year plan lays out a $3.5 billion roadmap to compress vaccine development timelines to 100 days, develop a universal vaccine against COVID-19 and other Betacoronaviruses, and create a “library” of vaccine candidates for use against known and unknown pathogens. The plan is available at endpandemics.cepi.net.