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Press Release

Four Distinguished Global Leaders Join Efforts to Decode the Human Immune System

Aug 15, 2019

New York – August 13, 2019 – Four distinguished global leaders are joining the Human Vaccines Project to help push forward its effort to solve one the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, the decoding of the human immune system. A 21-year member of Australia’s Parliament who spent five years as Foreign Minister, the Honorable Julie Bishop will join the Board of Directors. Internationally recognized Dutch virologist Jaap Goudsmit takes the helm as Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, while Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organization and Jerome Kim of the International Vaccine Institute join the Project’s Scientific Steering Committee.

“The Human Vaccines Project is very pleased that these four accomplished leaders have embraced the Project’s mission to address the next frontier in human health, the human immune system,” says Wayne C. Koff, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project.  “Their extensive expertise across public, private, and nonprofit sectors will greatly strengthen our organization’s capacity to successfully integrate biomedical, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies towards transforming the future of human health.”

Honorable Julie Bishop:  Bishop currently serves as the Chair of the Telethon Kids Institute, a world leader in addressing the health of pediatric and indigenous populations and the Project’s first international scientific hub. She is also the incoming Chancellor of the Australian National University. As former Foreign Minister and Minister of Education and Science in Australia, she brings a wealth of public health experience to her new role with the Project.

“The collaboration between Telethon Kids Institute and the Human Vaccines Project is a natural partnership that has the potential to yield enormous benefits for humankind and to hopefully revolutionize the approach to prevention and treatment of many types of illness,” Bishop says. “It would be a stunning achievement and one with global significance should the Human Vaccines Project be successful in identifying ways to greatly strengthen the human immune system, thereby making us far more resilient and resistant to the causes and impact of devastating and costly diseases.”

Jaap Goudsmit, MD PhD:  A Dutch virologist by training, Goudsmit is internationally recognized for his research in AIDS, influenza, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases.  Dr. Goudsmit was formerly Chief Scientific Officer at Crucell, a biotechnology company based in the Netherlands, and has joined the Project as Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer.  He also holds appointments as professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of pathogenesis and natural history of neurodegenerative diseases at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam. 

“The Human Vaccines Project has recently demonstrated that decoding the human immune system is feasible and is entering an exciting new phase of growth that will deepen our understanding of immunology to improve health for all people,” Goudsmit says.

Soumya Swaminathan, MD: A pediatrician by training from India who is recognized for her research on tuberculosis and HIV, Dr. Swaminathan serves on the leadership team of the World Health Organization as its Chief Scientist and is joining the Human Vaccines Project’s Scientific Steering Committee. She formerly served as Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and was Director General of the India Council of Medical Research. “The Human Vaccines Project’s commitment to deciphering the human immune system across global populations has the potential to make a major impact on the future of public health in vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries,” Swaminathan says.

Jerome Kim, MD: A physician by training, Dr. Kim currently serves as Director General of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, Korea, and is also joining the Project’s Scientific Steering Committee. He is a professor of medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Formerly, Dr. Kim was Principal Deputy and Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program. “The Human Vaccines Project is at the cutting edge of using new technologies in genomics, immune monitoring, and machine learning, to understand mechanism of protective immunity with vaccines and immunotherapies, complementing our efforts to improve the health and well-being of the world’s poorest populations,” Kim says.

“We are excited to welcome the Honorable Julie Bishop to the Human Vaccines Project’s Board of Directors and, in so doing, to further expand our strong partnership with the Telethon Kids Institute,” says Ian Gust, chair of the Human Vaccines Project Board. “And we are thrilled that Jaap Goudsmit has joined the Project’s executive management team, and that Drs. Swaminathan and Kim are providing their time and commitment to our mission. Collectively, these talented individuals will bolster our efforts worldwide.”

About the Human Vaccines Project

The Human Vaccines Project is a bold public-private initiative that aims to decode the human immune system to make the next leap forward in human health. Pioneering a new era in health, the Project will enable the creation of next-generation vaccines, diagnostics, and therapies across diseases. Learn more: http://www.humanvaccinesproject.org