Headquarters of Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland, United States
|Parent department||National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases|
|Parent agency||National Institutes of Health|
The Vaccine Research Center (VRC), is an intramural division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The mission of the VRC is to discover and develop both vaccines and antibody-based products that target infectious diseases.
The broad research portfolio of the VRC includes basic, clinical, and translational[clarification needed] research into vaccines for HIV, Ebola, Marburg, and RSV, among other viruses, and therapeutic antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19) and other pathogens.
The origins of the Vaccine Research Center date back to 1996 following discussions between President Bill Clinton and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci regarding research addressing HIV/AIDS. Recognizing the potential impact a vaccine could make in decreasing the global public health burden of HIV, President Clinton in 1997 announced a plan to establish an HIV vaccine research center on the NIH campus. The dedication ceremony for the VRC took place in 1999 with President Clinton delivering the opening remarks.
Named in honor of immunization advocates former Governor of Arkansas Dale Bumpers and his wife Betty Flanagan Bumpers, the Vaccine Research Center opened its doors as Building 40 on the NIH campus in 2000. The founding investigators leading the new center came from a range of scientific disciplines including virology, immunology, structural biology, bioengineering, manufacturing, clinical research and regulatory science. While HIV vaccine research and development remains a core focus, the scope of activities has expanded to include advancing scientific understanding and developing biologics for a broad array of infectious pathogens.
2000 - 2012
Director: Gary J. Nabel
Deputy Director: John R. Mascola
2013 – March 2022
Director: John R. Mascola
Deputy Directors: Richard A. Koup, Julie E. Ledgerwood, Barney S. Graham (ret. 2021)
March 2022 - April 2023
Acting Director: Richard A. Koup
April 2023 - Present
Director: Ted Pierson
The VRC is composed of an Office of the Director, basic research laboratories and major programs.
Office of the Director:
To advance scientific understanding of infectious pathogens and develop investigational biologics, the VRC maintains programs in the following:
Key scientific areas:
Primary disease-specific programs:
In July 2010, a collaboration between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and officials at the Vaccine Research Center found that two human HIV antibodies, named VRC01 and VRC03, could potentially be used against a wide range of types and mutations of HIV in the design of a preventive HIV vaccine for human use, as well as in the formation of better antiretroviral therapy drug cocktails. The discovery, a potentially landmark one in the drive to find a vaccine for AIDS should it be validated and further improved.
In 2016 research efforts led by Nancy Sullivan at Vaccine Research Center and J. J. Muyembe-Tamfum from the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale (INRB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in the discovery of a monoclonal antibody, mAb114, from a survivor from the 1995 Kikwit outbreak of Ebola virus disease. mAb114 is a monoclonal antibody therapy that is being evaluated as a treatment for Ebola virus disease and has shown great success by lowering the mortality rate from 70% to about 34% in the 2018-2020 Kivu Ebola Virus Outbreak. In August 2019, Congolese health authorities, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health promoted the use of mAb114, alongside a similar Regeneron-produced treatment, over other treatments yielding higher mortality rates, after ending clinical trials during the outbreak.
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