The Seattle area has one of the world’s strongest concentrations of global health research, with much of it being fueled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Vaccines are one of the primary tools being studied here to fight leading killers around the world, like malaria and tuberculosis. Yet these products have long been a neglected stepchild of the pharmaceutical industry, regarded by many as a high-risk, high-liability, low-profit backwater. Even the massive influx of world-class research and worldwide attention prompted by the search for an HIV vaccine failed to breathe life into the industry.
So why do many venture capitalists and philanthropists consider now the best time in history to invest in vaccines? What has changed in biology that is paving the way for a new breed of immunizations? How big is the opportunity for business and human health?
We will pose these questions and more to some of the world’s leading authorities at the inaugural Xconomy Forum: Vaccines 2.0. This panel discussion and networking event will take place from 6 to 8:30 pm on Dec. 11 at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle.
This event will bring together pioneers with a variety of insights into the research, development, and commercial implementation of the next generation of vaccines. The panel will be moderated by Todd Patrick, the former president of ID Biomedical in Bothell. That company, which worked to develop a nasal spray flu vaccine and an injected vaccine for strep throat, was sold to the world’s second-biggest drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline, for $1.5 billion in 2005. Patrick is now leading a new company in Memphis, TN called Vaxent.
And now for the panelists. Steve Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute, will talk about his experience starting a new company called Immune Design, which is working to develop a new generation of vaccines that spur specialized immune reactions against pathogens, and that are meant to work in a single shot. Denise Galloway, a professor of microbiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will talk about her pioneering work that paved the way for the first vaccine to prevent infection by the human papillomavirus, now marketed by Merck as Gardasil. Chris Elias, the CEO of PATH, will talk about his organization’s efforts to finance research into a new generation of vaccines, and to help make sure existing vaccines can have the greatest impact possible in the developing world.
The event begins with registration at 6 pm, with the panel to follow about 30 minutes later, with time left at the end for networking and refreshments. You can find more details about how to register here. Xconomy has done a number of events in Boston already, and this is the first of many events we plan to host in the Seattle area, concentrating on both technology and life sciences. We hope you’ll join us.
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