Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Merck Senior Vice President of Vaccine Research Leaving To Join International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
Merck Senior Vice President of Vaccine Research Emilio Emini has announced that he is leaving the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based drug maker to head research at the not-for-profit International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (Silverman, Newark Star-Ledger, 1/13). Emini, who began the antiviral drug program at Merck, will begin his tenure at the New York City-based IAVI on March 1, the Wall Street Journal reports (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 1/13). Emini said, "The primary driver in my decision is to put 100% of my time in AIDS research. It's the biggest infectious disease problem in the world and there is much to be done" (Newark Star-Ledger, 1/13). Although some HIV/AIDS vaccine advocates say that Emini's move could "be a shot in the arm for collaborative vaccine development," others are concerned about the effect Emini's departure could have on the progress of Merck's HIV vaccine research, according to the Journal. However, Merck spokesperson Janet Skidmore said, "Our commitment to the [AIDS vaccine] program remains intact" (Wall Street Journal, 1/13). Huntly Collins, director of scientific communication at the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, said, "[W]e trust that Emini's departure does not signal any diminution of Merck's commitment to funding research and development. As long as Merck and IAVI move forward aggressively, the move may strengthen overall efforts to find a vaccine." IAVI CEO Seth Berkley said, "We've proven we can take vaccines from a conceptual framework into trials. But hiring [Emini] signifies a level of maturity for us" (Newark Star-Ledger, 1/13).
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