Past Event

Vaccine Development, Availability and Safety

December 16, 2020
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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Online Event (Tunis/Nairobi)

The availability of an effective vaccine against COVID19 will be critical to the worldwide control of a disease that is responsible for over 1.2 million deaths worldwide to date. The development, testing, and distribution of candidate vaccines has proceeded on a scale and at a speed that is unprecedented in the history of modern vaccines. This webinar will review the most promising candidate vaccines, the steps in the process from development to approval, and distribution and identify issues for future investigation. Experts from Columbia University in the U.S., and from the African continent will make presentations, and address questions submitted by attendees.

Moderator Bio

Dr. Daniel Ochiel, PhD

Dr Daniel Ochiel, Ph.D.,  is the Director of Laboratory Programs for Africa at  IAVI (, Nairobi, Kenya. He is an internationally trained scientist with extensive experience in the fields of biomedical research. He currently serves in several senior leadership positions within IAVI to guide the strategy and implementation of research and training programs globally. Dr. Ochiel previously worked for the Columbia Global Centers in Nairobi, as the program manager for African Nutritional Sciences Research Consortium (ANSRC) a multi-institutional, collaborative post-graduate training program in East Africa funded by AfDB. He completed his Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. He holds a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College, a Master of Science from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; and Master of Science and Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degrees from the University of Nairobi, Kenya

Panelist Bio

Dr. Lawrence Stanberry, MD, PhD

Lawrence Stanberry, MD, Ph.D. is Professor of Pediatrics, Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of the Programs in Global Health. Dr. Stanberry received his  MD (James Scholar) and PhD (Pharmacology) degrees from the University of Illinois in Chicago. His postgraduate medical training was in Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases and Virology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He spent a sabbatical year at SmithKline Beecham Biologicals, Rixensart, Belgium working on the development of therapeutic vaccine for persistent viral infections and cancer. From 2008 to 2018 he was the Reuben S. Carpentier Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at VP&S. From 2000 to 2008, he was the John Sealy Distinguished Professor and Chairman of Pediatrics and Director of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Prior to joining the faculty in Galveston, he was the Albert B. Sabin Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  

Dr. Stanberry is an authority on vaccine development and viral diseases. He has served on numerous advisory and review panels including serving as the chair of the Vaccine Study Section and the Pediatrics Review Panel at the National Institutes of Health. He has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, numerous vaccine, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. His areas of research include the development of antiviral drugs, topical microbicides, prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines and basic studies of the pathogenesis and immunobiology of herpes simplex virus. His vaccine research has ranged from preclinical animal model studies through phase 3 multinational clinical trials. He has participated in four first-in-human vaccine trials. His laboratory provided the first experimental evidence to support the concept of vaccine immunotherapy for the treatment of persistent viral infections. Dr. Stanberry was one of the lead researchers on the GlaxoSmithKline herpes simplex virus vaccine trials. These trials produced the first scientific evidence that a vaccine could protect humans against genital herpes infection. An unexpected finding of these trials was that the vaccine was effective only in women. This was the first demonstration of gender-specific vaccine protection. Dr. Stanberry has authored over 200 scientific articles and chapters. He is the author of a book for the general public entitled, “Understanding Herpes” University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, Mississippi (1st edition 1998, 2nd edition 2006). He is the editor or co-editor of 5 textbooks including: “Genital and Neonatal Herpes” John Wiley and Sons, Ltd, London (1996), “Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Vaccines, Prevention, and Control” Academic Press, Ltd., London (1st edition 2000, 2nd edition 2012), “Vaccines for Biodefense and Emerging and Neglected Diseases, London, Elsevier (2009). “Understanding Modern Vaccines” Elsevier (2011) and “Viral Infections of Humans: Epidemiology and Control,” (5th edition 2014, 6th edition anticipated 2021).  

Prof. Omu Anzala

Omu Anzala is a Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and Director of KAVI – Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI - ICR).   He obtained his medical training at the University of Nairobi in Kenya; a Diploma in Epidemiology at Tufts University in USA; a PhD in Virology and Immunology at the University of Manitoba, Canada and Postdoctoral Fellow at Molecular Immunology Institute, Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM), Oxford University, UK. Anzala is the leading HIV vaccine investigator in Kenya and was one of the founders of KAVI in 2001 as the HIV Vaccine Research Unit in Kenya, and part of moving it to its current status as an Institute of Clinical Research in 2013. KAVI-ICR is now a fully-fledged Institute of the University of Nairobi under his leadership. He was co-PI of the first HIV vaccine trial in Kenya, the second in Africa, using a DNA plasmid. He has subsequently been PI or co-PI for 11 IAVI-funded HIV vaccine trials in adults and the first pediatric HIV vaccine trial in Kenya. Anzala has a diverse background in HIV prevention research well-suited to the area of integrated prevention trials. His research has focused on the immunological and genetic correlates of long-term survival and immunologic non-progression among HIV-infected sex workers in Kenya. Related experience includes a RCT of azithromycin prophylaxis for STI and HIV, an intermittent PrEP RCT as well as multiple epidemiology studies in at-risk populations including acute HIV infection, mucosal immunology and broadly neutralising antibody identification in HIV-infected subjects. He was a consultant for Merck HIV Vaccine Network between 2010 to 2013 and also served on the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Clinical Committee between 2011 to 2013. He has authored over 91 peer-reviewed publications, and supervised and mentored over 23 Masters and 6 PhD students to successful completion of their studies, and will continue to do the same for many more.

Dr. Philip LaRussa, MD

Dr. Philip LaRussa, MD is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with four decades of experience in clinical and epidemiological infectious diseases research in local and global settings. He received an MD degree from the Università degli Studì in Bologna, Italy in 1978, completed residency training in Pediatrics (1978-1981), and a fellowship training in pediatric Infectious diseases (1981-1981) at New York University-Bellevue Hospital Medical Center, New York. He was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, in New York from 1983-1986. From 2000-2019, he was Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and emeritus Professor of Pediatrics since 2019.  

His research interests include the pathogenesis, immune response, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of varicella zoster virus infections in children. He developed the first PCR assay to distinguish varicella vaccine virus from wild-type strain, which allowed the accurate differentiation of adverse events due to the vaccine from complications of wild-type infection, and described the effectiveness of varicella vaccine in healthy and immunocompromised hosts. He also described important co-factors influencing the perinatal transmission of HIV and outcomes of perinatally infected infants. He was the principal investigator for the Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS IV: 2001-2007), and of the NIH-funded International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent Clinical Trials site at Columbia University Medical Center and director of its the on-site retrovirus study laboratory from 2006-2013. Since 2001, his research has focused on immunization safety issues, and has been the Principal Investigator for the CDC-funded Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Center at Columbia University Medical Center. During the last ten years he has also focused on capacity assessment and capacity building research projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and has recently completed a study of 24 hospitals that care for children in sub-Saharan Africa. 

He has been a member of numerous national and international advisory committees including the Brighton Collaboration Working Group for development of case definitions for smallpox vaccine associated adverse events (2003-2005), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Subcommittee on varicella vaccination (2004-2006), the F.D.A. Advisory Committee on Vaccines & Related Biological Products (2004 – 2008), Chair of the NIH NIAID Influenza Research Collaboration (NIRC) Combination Therapy Focus Group (2009 – 2010), Member, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Vaccine Advisory Committee [NVAC] (2011 – 2015), Co-chair, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) Global Immunization Working Group (2012-2014), Member, W.H.O. Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization Working Group on Varicella & Zoster vaccines (2012 – 2014), and Member, F.D.A., Pediatric Advisory Committee (2012 – 2016). He is the author of 164 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and 28 chapters in textbooks.

Dr. Yanis Ben Amor

Dr. Yanis Ben Amor is the Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. At SIPA, Dr. Ben Amor is teaching the Fall semester course: “Introduction to Global Health”.

Dr. Ben Amor is also the Director of the Tropical Laboratory Initiative, a program launched by Columbia to promote access to diagnostic services to patients in remote rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. He is a molecular biologist and technical advisor responsible for developing effective infectious diseases control programs as well as designing and implementing comprehensive laboratory infrastructures and services. He has joined Professor Sachs’ team in 2004.

Dr Ben Amor has over 15 years of research experience in infectious diseases, mainly tuberculosis and HIV. He was involved in many projects all over the world conducting research on new diagnostic tests for tuberculosis and HIV as well as improving quality of care and access to tuberculosis treatment for patients in developing countries and has previously worked for several organizations such as the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) and the Public Health Research Institute (Newark, New Jersey). Dr. Ben Amor has a PhD in Molecular Biology, and a Masters in the same discipline from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Rennes (Rennes, France). He has published widely in the areas of tuberculosis diagnosis, global health, and prevention. He is also regularly a speaker on behalf of Columbia University and the Earth Institute at various conferences worldwide.