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A Lifetime's Work Eradicating Disease
CHORI Scientist Honored with Prestigious Lectureship Award
CHORI senior scientist Dan Granoff, MD, has been awarded this year’s Stanley A. Plotkin Lectureship for his lifetime contributions to vaccine research and development. Awardees are nominated by members of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS) based on vaccinology contributions that both affect how we use vaccines, and that benefit the health and wellbeing of children around the globe.

“Dr. Granoff’s research contributions have illuminated the field of vaccinology, resulting in the establishment of vaccines both for Haemophilus influenzae in infants and for multiple strains of meningococcal disease,” says CHORI executive director and longtime colleague, Alexander Lucas, PhD.

“Dr. Granoff's research contributions have illuminated the field of vaccinology.”

The prestigious lectureship award was instituted by the PIDS in 2003, and is designed to honor Dr. Plotkin, the founding father of PIDS, and inventor of the current German measles vaccine given to children today. As a result, each year the PIDS has a lecture at their annual meeting, which is held in conjunction with the Pediatric Academic Society meeting, at which thousands of academic pediatricians gather to share their research.

On May 3rd, Dr. Granoff will present an hour-long lecture at the Vancouver 2010 PIDS annual meeting entitled, “Remaining Challenges for Global Control of Meningitis Disease by Vaccination.” The three-part lecture will first discuss the meningitis vaccines currently used to prevent four different strains based on targeting the sugar molecule that encapsulates the meningitis bacteria. Referred to as polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines, their early evaluation and development were in a large part the result of Dr. Granoff’s research efforts.

“The meningococcal polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines have been perfected over the last few years,” says Dr. Granoff.
“We now have conjugate vaccines that work really well in infants, toddlers and adults. In theory, these vaccines could be used to eliminate four of the five strains that cause disease.”
The second part of the lecture will address a vaccine advocated by Dr. Granoff for prevention of disease caused by group A meningococcal strains in Africa, where rapid spread of the bacteria can decimate entire villages, and affect more than a million individuals over a 10-year period.

“With this particular vaccine, the technology was available, everyone knew how to make the vaccine. The challenge was that no drug company was willing to develop and manufacturer the vaccine because there was no money to be made,” says Dr. Granoff.

Instead, Dr. Granoff worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) to demonstrate that an affordable vaccine for Africa was feasible. This work led to a 70 million dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to WHO and a not-for –profit organization called PATH to develop the vaccine.
A country-wide demonstration project with the newly licensed vaccine will begin this year in Burkina Faso, which has one of the largest incidences of meningitis in the world, and will be extended to two other countries in Africa in 2011.

The final part of the lecture will address the challenges surrounding the development of a vaccine for group B meningococcal disease. Whereas most vaccines against meningococcal meningitis target the sugar capsules surrounding the bacteria, this approach couldn’t be used to create a group B vaccine because of the risks of eliciting autoimmune responses.

“This means we have to make a vaccine based on proteins, which is much more complicated than vaccines that target sugars. We’ve focused on a newly discovered protein vaccine candidate called factor H binding protein, (fHbp). Vaccines made utilizing mutant bacterial strains that over-express fHbp have proven beautifully effective in studies to date,” Dr. Granoff explains.
“We’re hoping to get industry-sponsorship for additional development so that ultimately we can take this vaccine approach to the next level for testing in humans.”

Dr. Granoff’s lecture offers but a small window into the many ways in which his research has helped make a difference in improving the lives of children around the world, one study, one grant, one vaccine at a time.

As Dr. Lucas says, “Dr. Granoff has made invaluable contributions to our understanding of encapsulated pathogens, mechanisms of immunity, and vaccine efficacy. We couldn’t be more pleased at CHORI that Dr. Granoff’s efforts are being honored with this well-deserved award.”

“Dr. Granoff has made invaluable contributions to our understanding of encapsulated pathogens, mechanisms of immunity, and vaccine efficacy. We couldn’t be more pleased that Dr. Granoff is being honored with this well-deserved award.”

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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