New Members for IAVI SAC, Board

In January 2003, Ian Gust took over from Jaap Goudsmit as chair of IAVI’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), which helps guides ongoing projects and future initiatives. The SAC is composed of 12 experts in AIDS vaccine development and related fields, and has three sub-committees: Vaccine science, project management and clinical trials.

Gust has been on IAVI’s SAC since it began in 1997. An MD and medical virologist, he directed the WHO Collaborating Centre for Virus Reference and Research for 18 years, and presently sits on the WHO Expert Panel on Virus Diseases. Gust is a professorial fellow in Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne and non-executive director of an Australian biotech company, Biota.

There have also been changes to IAVI’s Board of Directors. Geoffrey Lamb, Vice President of Resource Mobilization and Co-financing at the World Bank, has taken over from Lee Smith as chair. Lamb is also a board member of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Other new Board members, replacing those whose three-year terms have finished, are: Awa Coll-Seck (Minister of Health and Prevention, Senegal), Chrispus Kiyonga (Chairperson, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria), Kapil Sibal (Member of Parliament, India), Paul Klingenstein (general partner and founder of Aberdare Ventures, a venture capital company) and Ian Gust, representing IAVI’s SAC. A complete list of SAC and Board members is available here.

IAVI Core Immunology Lab Up and Running

IAVI’s Core Immunology lab, based at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London and run by Frances Gotch, is now fully functional. Its present activities are centered around analyzing samples from ongoing IAVI vaccine trials and providing training for African and European laboratory staff.

In November, the lab sponsored a three-day course in good clinical laboratory practice (GCLP) for staff of current and future trials. Participants included researchers from the core lab, the Oxford UK trial site, the Kenyan AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Uganda Virus Research Institute—all of whom are involved with ongoing trials—along with others from Rwanda, South Africa and Sweden, where trials are planned. The course covered issues pertaining specifically to vaccine studies, including regulatory requirements, personnel organization in the lab, writing and adhering to standard operating procedures, sample handling, data management and accountability. The British Association of Research Quality Assurance led the course. A similar course is planned for April 2003, to include research teams from India and China.

The Core lab analyzes samples from the London trial site, in addition to selected samples previously analyzed in the field labs of all IAVI-sponsored vaccine trials. This head-to-head comparison of data provides quality control for the field labs and confirms that the data are valid and reproducible.

India Workshop looks at challenges around women and vaccine trials

On 22-23 November 2002, the IAVI India Team hosted a consultation on gender issues and HIV vaccine trials. The meeting’s 25 participants included women’s health advocates, representatives of NGOs, PLWHAs, public health policymakers, lawyers, ethicists, vaccine scientists, trial administrators, and researchers with experience in conducting other types of vaccine trials, particularly contraceptive trials.

In India, as in many other parts of the world, there may be special challenges to women’s participation in vaccine trials. The discussion mapped out issues that could arise at all phases of vaccine development. In the past, community concerns have stopped, or severely delayed, problematic biomedical research in India. Participants agreed to continue working with IAVI to identify and address issues that could arise through vaccine testing.

The meeting generated several action steps, which will be pursued through the work of small advisory groups. Key issues include development and review of informed consent protocols; gender sensitization for all stakeholders involved in vaccine preparedness and testing; and community mobilization. The report-back from the meeting concluded that, “While the gender lens has to be focused on the needs of entire communities, families, and men, the realities of women and socially and economically vulnerable groups are to be kept in the foreground.”

IAVI Appoints New Policy Advisory Committe

In February 2003, IAVI announced the establishment of a Policy Advisory Committee that will provide guidance to the organization as it expands its activities in both global advocacy and policy research.

Committee members have been drawn from academia, non-profit organizations and the private sector, and bring expertise in areas such as delivery systems for vaccines, introduction of new health care technologies, economics of vaccines, international financial mechanisms, regulatory issues and international development.

The committee members are:

David Apuuli, Director-General, Uganda AIDS Commission 
Amie Batson, Health Specialist, World Bank and Co-chair, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Financing Task Force 
Donald Burke, Director, Center for Immunization Research, Johns Hopkins University 
Ciro de Quadros, Director, Division of Vaccines and Immunization, Pan American Health Organization 
R. Gordon Douglas, Jr., Director, Strategic Planning, Dale & Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center, US National Institutes of Health 
Christopher J. Elias, President, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health 
Lieve Fransen, Head, Unit B/3 (Social & Human Development), Directorate General Development, European Commission 
David Heymann, Director, Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization 
Purnima Mane, Chief Fund Portfolio Director & Director for Asia, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria 
Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Senior Advisor & Team Leader, Immunization Plus, UNICEF 
Bernard Pecoul, Director, Access to Medicines Campaign, Médecins Sans Frontières 
Seung-il Shin, Senior Advisor for International Development, VaxGen Inc. 
Jean Stéphenne, President and General Manager, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals 
Joseph Stiglitz, Professor of Economics, Columbia University 
Mark Wainberg, Director, McGill University AIDS Centre •