NIAID selects new director of the Vaccine Research Center
John R. Mascola, M.D., an internationally recognized expert on HIV vaccine development, has been named the new director of the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. In this role, he will lead a comprehensive research program aimed at the design, development and testing of candidate vaccines against HIV/AIDS, influenza and other globally important infectious diseases. He will also serve as chief of the VRC virology laboratory.
“John Mascola is a visionary leader who brings a wealth of talents as a basic scientist, clinician, clinical trialist and administrator to the helm of the Vaccine Research Center,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “In particular, his exemplary work on elucidating the protective role of antibodies against HIV has greatly influenced current vaccine design efforts. I am confident that Dr. Mascola will continue and even accelerate our momentum toward the development of novel, effective vaccines against infectious diseases.”
Dr. Mascola previously served as acting director and deputy director of the VRC. He also led the center’s core virology laboratory. Among his many accomplishments, he and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate that the infusion of neutralizing antibodies could protect against mucosal HIV exposure in monkeys. Dr. Mascola and his colleagues also have made advances in the study of human antibody responses to natural HIV infection, including the isolation in 2010 of two antibodies from the blood of an HIV-infected person that can neutralize more than 90 percent of known HIV strains. VRC researchers continue to study these and other potent neutralizing antibodies in hopes of developing an effective HIV vaccine.
“John is an innovative scientist and a great choice to lead the Vaccine Research Center,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “His expertise in vaccine development will undoubtedly help advance important research programs against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and influenza.”
Dr. Mascola graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University, Boston, and earned his medical degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the San Diego Naval Medical Center and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., followed by a fellowship in retroviral diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md. Dr. Mascola is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.
“The Vaccine Research Center is a unique, state-of-the-art facility, with a complement of extraordinarily dedicated and talented scientists and staff. I am honored to be selected as its new director,” said Dr. Mascola. “I look forward to expanding our basic research on immune responses to HIV and other infections and applying this knowledge to the development of strategies to prevent and treat human diseases.”
Dr. Mascola replaces Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., who in November 2012 left the position of VRC Director to become the deputy to the president for Global Research and Development, senior vice president and chief scientific officer at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.