Leadership

President

Bob Garry

Professor
Tulane University

Robert F. Garry is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He serves in the Tulane University administration as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Biomedical Sciences, directing a large multidisciplinary training program. Research in the Garry Laboratory focuses on a number of aspects of viral pathogenesis. He was involved in collaborative studies that lead to the determination that entry proteins of enveloped viruses form at least three distinct structural classes.

Dr. Garry continues to maintain a broad interest in the mechanisms of enveloped virus entry. He has a long-standing interest in viral diagnostics dating back to his work with the industry scientists who developed the first generation of ELISA and western blot assays to detect serum antibodies to HIV-1. These early studies on viral diagnostics lead to his characterization of an isolate of HIV from a patient who died of AIDS in 1969, the earliest confirmed case of AIDS in the United States. He is currently managing the consortium of scientists who are developing modern diagnostics for several biodefense pathogens.

Vice President

Kristian Andersen

Professor
Scripps Research

Kristian Andersen, PhD is a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, with joint appointments in the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, and at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Over the past decade, his research has focused on the complex relationship between host and pathogen. Using a combination of next-generation sequencing, field work, experimentation, and computational biology he has spearheaded large international collaborations investigating the spread and evolution of deadly pathogens, including Zika virus, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, and Lassa virus. His work is highly cross-disciplinary and exceptionally collaborative.

Kristian earned his doctoral degree from the University of Cambridge in immunology and performed postdoctoral work in Pardis Sabeti’s group at Harvard University and the Broad Institute. He has received several awards, including the Max Perutz Prize in 2008, a Carlsberg Foundation Fellowship in 2009, and was chosen as a PEW Biomedical Scholar in 2016.

Treasurer

Pardis Sabeti

Professor
Harvard University

Pardis C. Sabeti is a Professor at the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. She graduated with an S.B. in Biology from MIT, an M.Sc. and D.Phil. from Oxford University, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, being the third woman ever to graduate summa cum laude.

Dr. Sabeti is an evolutionary geneticist with extensive expertise studying genetic diversity, developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of natural selection, and carrying out genetic association studies. Her graduate work at Oxford University focused on host genetic factors in Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility and studying patterns of genetic diversity to identify rapidly evolving genes. At Harvard, she has developed novel methods to detect natural selection, and applied it to the entire human genome, finding many novel candidates.

Her lab focuses on detecting and characterizing signals of natural selection in humans and pathogens and has recently identified candidate genes associated with natural selection for Lassa Fever virus infection in populations in Nigeria, recently published in Nature. Pardis’s awards and fellowships include the Rhodes Scholarship, the Soros Fellowship, L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowship, the Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation Post-doctoral fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, and the Packard Foundation Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Pardis is also the lead singer and bassist of the alternative rock band Thousand Days.

Secretary

Doug Simpson

Senior Advisor
Zalgen Labs

Douglass T. Simpson is a healthcare industry business leader with over 40 years experience in medical devices and biotechnology. He is the former President and CEO of Corgenix Medical Corporation, a publicly traded cardiovascular and infectious disease focused company which developed the first rapid immunodiagnostic test for Ebola authorized by the FDA and the WHO for global use. Before being acquired, Corgenix was an affiliate of the VHFC, a partnership of academic, industry and research institutes including Tulane University, The Scripps Research Institute, Harvard University/Broad Institute, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston/Galveston National Laboratory, Autoimmune Technologies LLC, Zalgen Labs LLC, the Kenema Government Hospital (Sierra Leone), Redeemers University and the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (Nigeria), and various other partners in West Africa, whose mission is to promote global health and safety by creating new products to diagnose, treat and significantly reduce the incidence and mortality rate of viral hemorrhagic fevers and related neglected tropical diseases.

He holds BS and MS degrees in Biological Sciences and Parasitology from Lamar University, Beaumont TX.

Board Members

Board Member

Luis Branco

Co-Founder & Managing Director
Zalgen Labs

Dr. Branco is involved in the production of monoclonal and recombinant antigens required to support the research being conducted by the Consortium. Dr. Branco has over 18 years of research and development experience in the fields of molecular biology, immunology, virology, and cell biology particularly in the design and implementation of bacterial, baculoviral, and mammalian expression systems for the production of recombinant therapeutic molecules.

Dr. Branco began his career at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst performing post-graduate research in the field of baculovirology, including design of baculovirus expression vectors and insect cell culture processes. Dr. Branco developed industry experience with a five-year tenure at MedImmune, Inc., where he served important roles in the development of bioassays for MedImmune’s flagship product, Synagis™. In addition, he performed research in the characterization of MedImmune’s leading therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) for transplantation medicine and psoriasis, Siplizumab™. Dr. Branco then transitioned to Human Genome Sciences, Inc. where he led the Stable Cell Development Group and was responsible for the generation and characterization of human mAbs to the chemokine receptor CCR5 that blocked HIV entry into permissive cells. In addition, he developed multiple flow cytometry (FACS) based assays for the high throughput differential characterization of mAbs to 7-TM proteins, and a CCR5 receptor occupancy FACS-based assay that measured the kinetics of an HIV entry inhibiting mAb in blood samples from infected patients. Dr. Branco then joined BioFactura, Inc., a startup biotechnology company, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer, and was responsible for the bacterial and mammalian protein expression element of the aforementioned U01 grant, in addition to the generation and characterization of mAbs to recombinant LASV antigens.

Recently, Dr. Branco co-founded Zalgen Labs, LLC, where he is continuing the characterization of panels of LASV- specific mAbs, in addition to generating recombinant LASV proteins with improved antigenic properties.

Board Member

Erica Ollmann Saphire

Professor
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. is a Professor of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Her research explains, at the molecular level, how and why viruses like Ebola and Lassa are pathogenic and provides the roadmap for medical defense. Her team has solved the structures of the Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Bundibugyo and Lassa virus glycoproteins, explained how they remodel these structures as they drive themselves into cells, how their proteins suppress immune function and where human antibodies can defeat these viruses.

A recent discovery revealed why neutralizing antibodies had been so difficult to elicit against Lassa virus, and provided not only the templates for the needed vaccine, but the molecule itself: a Lassa surface glycoprotein engineered to remain in the right conformation to inspire the needed antibody response. This molecule is the basis for international vaccine efforts against Lassa.

Dr. Saphire was also the galvanizing force behind the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium and is the Director of this organization. This consortium, an NIH-funded Center of Excellence in Translational Research, unites 44 previously competing academic, industrial and government labs across five continents to understand and provide antibody therapeutics against Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and other viruses.

Dr. Saphire’s work has been recognized at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, with young investigator awards from the International Congress of Antiviral Research, the American Society for Microbiology, and the MRC Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom. She has been awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship from the United States Department of State and a Mercator Fellowship from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, to develop international collaborations using cryoelectron microscopy to further global health.

Board Member

John Schieffelin

Assistant Professor
Tulane University

Dr. Schieffelin received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in 2001. He continued his training (2001-2005) in a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency at Tulane University. Dr. Schieffelin went on to complete a combined fellowship training program in Adult and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Tulane University (2005-2009). In 2009, Dr. Schieffelin joined the Tulane University School of Medicine faculty in the Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics as an Assistant Professor or Clinical Medicine & Pediatrics. His primary clinical interests include infections in transplant recipients and tuberculosis.

Dr. Schieffelin devotes a significant amount of time to the laboratory. His research is focused on pathogen-antibody interactions. Specifically, he is interested in neutralizing and enhancing antibodies that target dengue virus as well as B cell epitopes in Lassa Fever.

Board Member

Brian Sullivan

Institute Member
Scripps Research

My lab focuses on the mechanisms of disease during infection with viruses that cause hemorrhagic illness. We have developed mouse models of severe hemorrhagic disease to study the molecular mechanisms that underlie vascular permeability, hemorrhage, immune-mediated damage, and death. Through our partnership with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, we are translating our findings in mice to disease in humans.
Board Member

Bob Cross

Assistant Professor
University of Texas Medical Branch

Dr. Cross’ research is centered on the biology and pathogenesis of high priority viral agents with a particular emphasis on elucidating mechanisms of vascular leak, coagulopathy, and immune derangement in viral hemorrhagic fever infections caused by filoviruses, arenaviruses, and bunyaviruses. His work utilizes a systems biology, molecular virology, and comparative pathogenesis approaches which utilize in vitro and in vivo models which accurately recapitulate human disease. The goal of this work is to dissect the events leading to disease or survival in order to develop medical countermeasures including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Dr. Cross also has a long standing interest in the epidemiology and ecology of these viruses where a particular focus has been centered on mammalian reservoirs of viral infection.

Countries

Country PI, Nigeria

Christian Happi

Professor
Redeemer's University

Dr. Christian Happi is the Director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, in Irrua, Nigeria. He is also Center Director for the Africa Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Dean of the College of Postgraduate Studies at Redeemer’s University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Dr. Happi graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) from University of Yaounde, Cameroon, and a M.Sc and Ph.D. from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His Postdoctoral training was conducted at Harvard School of Public Health. His awards and fellowships include Boroughs Wellcome and Bill & Melinda Gates Awards at the 2010 Genome Epidemiology Meeting, European Union-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Senior Research Fellowship Award 2009, Scientific Advisory Committee Chair at 2008 Africa Health Research Organization (AHRO), TurnerBiosciences Research Award 2007 and Member of the International Scientific Committee of the 4th MIM Pan African conference on Malaria (2003-2005).

Country PI, Sierra Leone

Donald Grant

Chief Physician
Kenema Government Hospital

Dr. Donald S. Grant is the Chief Physician of the Lassa ward at the Kenema Government Hospital, a position he took over in October 2010. Trained in Freetown, Sierra Leone Dr. Grant is currently also a lecturer in the Community Health Department of the College of Medicine at the University of Sierra Leone. His clinical and research interests revolve around infectious diseases.

He is actively involved in the community outreach projects that aim to create understanding among the public of how to prevent the transmission and infection of the virus that causes Lassa Fever, as well as tackle misconceptions among the community regarding receiving medical treatment at the hospital. Along with his work in the Lassa ward, Dr. Grant is one of four doctors at the hospital who provide services ranging from primary care to surgical procedures. His work involves balancing both the clinical and administrative sides of medicine.

Country PI, United States

Bob Garry

Professor
Tulane University

Robert F. Garry is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He serves in the Tulane University administration as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Biomedical Sciences, directing a large multidisciplinary training program. Research in the Garry Laboratory focuses on a number of aspects of viral pathogenesis. He was involved in collaborative studies that lead to the determination that entry proteins of enveloped viruses form at least three distinct structural classes.

Dr. Garry continues to maintain a broad interest in the mechanisms of enveloped virus entry. He has a long-standing interest in viral diagnostics dating back to his work with the industry scientists who developed the first generation of ELISA and western blot assays to detect serum antibodies to HIV-1. These early studies on viral diagnostics lead to his characterization of an isolate of HIV from a patient who died of AIDS in 1969, the earliest confirmed case of AIDS in the United States. He is currently managing the consortium of scientists who are developing modern diagnostics for several biodefense pathogens.

Sites

kenema

Site PI, KGH

Donald Grant

Chief Physician
Kenema Government Hospital

Dr. Donald S. Grant is the Chief Physician of the Lassa ward at the Kenema Government Hospital, a position he took over in October 2010. Trained in Freetown, Sierra Leone Dr. Grant is currently also a lecturer in the Community Health Department of the College of Medicine at the University of Sierra Leone. His clinical and research interests revolve around infectious diseases.

He is actively involved in the community outreach projects that aim to create understanding among the public of how to prevent the transmission and infection of the virus that causes Lassa Fever, as well as tackle misconceptions among the community regarding receiving medical treatment at the hospital. Along with his work in the Lassa ward, Dr. Grant is one of four doctors at the hospital who provide services ranging from primary care to surgical procedures. His work involves balancing both the clinical and administrative sides of medicine.

VHFC Member

Augustine Goba

Director, Lassa Laboratory
Kenema Government Hospital

Augustine Goba is the Director of the Lassa Laboratory at the Kenema Government Hospital. He has over 20 years of experience in international research through collaborations with Tulane and the CDC. From 1996 to 2004, he served as the chief laboratory technician for the Tulane/CDC Lassa Fever Research Program in Guinea.

Mr. Goba is responsible for the development and execution of research programs and the oversight of laboratory personnel working at Kenema Government Hospital. He serves as the liaison between Kenema Government Hospital, the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, and foreign collaborators, including Tulane.

VHFC Member

Simbirie Jalloh

Program Coordinator
Kenema Government Hospital

Simbirie Jalloh joined the Lassa fever Program as Program Coordinator in 2008. Prior to taking on her current position she worked at the Ministry of Health in Freetown as the Secretary to the Director. She is responsible for handling the finances of the Program, as well as ensuring that the laboratory and Lassa ward are equipped with necessary materials. She manages the day-to-day activities of 35 staff members. In addition she liaises with Public Health Units across the country in order to coordinate the pick up of blood samples from suspected Lassa cases.

Ms. Jalloh is passionate about the research being conducted by the Consortium in Kenema, and hopes to see more partners join the fight against this killer disease. She also hopes that new funding opportunities will arise to help expand the research and infrastructure improvements currently being undertaken.

VHFC Member

Lansana Kanneh

Outreach Officer
Kenema Government Hospital

Lansana is responsible for all outreach activities and contact tracing at Kenema Government Hospital.
VHFC Member

Mambu Momoh

Laboratory Scientist
Kenema Government Hospital

Mambu Momoh is a laboratory scientist in the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory at the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He manages sample collections, clinical laboratory testing and diagnostics. He is involved in a large collaboration with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC) in performing variety of research work in the lab.

Mr. Momoh works closely with international partners in the VHFC to better understand Category A pathogens such as Ebola and Lassa virus. His work focuses on developing better diagnostic platforms for Lassa, Ebola and other hemorrhagic fever diseases, work related to making viral hemorrhagic fever diseases manageable, and building capacities towards strengthening the health care system in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Momoh also serves as a Lab Instructor at Eastern Polytechnic College in Kenema. In 2007, he obtained a Diploma in Medical Laboratory Sciences from Eastern Polytechnic College. In 2015, he took part in Genomic and Infectious Disease Training organized at Harvard University in collaboration with the Africa Center of Excellence for Genomic and Infectious Diseases (ACEGID). He is also part of the Sierra Leone’s National Infectious Disease Response Team trained by College of Medicine, University of Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and its international partners. He also has experience in molecular diagnostic techniques and is proficient in conducting hematology, chemistries and microscopy.

John
VHFC Member

John Demby Sandi

Laboratory Scientist
Kenema Government Hospital

John Demby Sandi is a graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Biological Science from Nuala University, Sierra Leone, and with a Distinction Certificate in Viral Molecular Biology from College of Medicine and Allied Health Science (COMAHS). He also has a Master of Science in Infection Biology (Virology) from the University of Glasgow, UK.

Previously, Mr. Sandi worked in the Molecular Unit at the Central Public Health Reference Laboratory in Lakka, Sierra Leone. He currently works with the Tulane University Viral hemorrhagic Fever Laboratory in Kenema, Sierra Leone as a Laboratory Scientist. He is efficient in performing diagnostic procedures in the laboratory ranging from RDT and ELISA to qPCR and even conventional PCR. He also has experience in working with Genexpert, a multi PCR diagnostic instrument which targets the NP and GP. Mr. Sandi is interested in understanding viral genomics specifically in relation to VHFs.

isth hospital

Site PI, ISTH

Christian Happi

Professor
Redeemer's University

Dr. Christian Happi is the Director of the Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, in Irrua, Nigeria. He is also Center Director for the Africa Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Dean of the College of Postgraduate Studies at Redeemer’s University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.

Dr. Happi graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) from University of Yaounde, Cameroon, and a M.Sc and Ph.D. from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His Postdoctoral training was conducted at Harvard School of Public Health. His awards and fellowships include Boroughs Wellcome and Bill & Melinda Gates Awards at the 2010 Genome Epidemiology Meeting, European Union-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Senior Research Fellowship Award 2009, Scientific Advisory Committee Chair at 2008 Africa Health Research Organization (AHRO), TurnerBiosciences Research Award 2007 and Member of the International Scientific Committee of the 4th MIM Pan African conference on Malaria (2003-2005).

VHFC Member

Folarin Onikepe

Deputy Director
ACEGID

Dr. Folarin received her PhD from the University of Ibadan where she trained under Dr. Christian Happi.
VHFC Member

Philomena Jemima Ehiane Eromon

Laboratory Scientist
ACEGID

Ms. Eromon is a Laboratory Scientist with ACEGID where she directs much of the research performed by the VHFC.

tulane

Site PI, Tulane

Bob Garry

Professor
Tulane University

Robert F. Garry is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He serves in the Tulane University administration as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Biomedical Sciences, directing a large multidisciplinary training program. Research in the Garry Laboratory focuses on a number of aspects of viral pathogenesis. He was involved in collaborative studies that lead to the determination that entry proteins of enveloped viruses form at least three distinct structural classes.

Dr. Garry continues to maintain a broad interest in the mechanisms of enveloped virus entry. He has a long-standing interest in viral diagnostics dating back to his work with the industry scientists who developed the first generation of ELISA and western blot assays to detect serum antibodies to HIV-1. These early studies on viral diagnostics lead to his characterization of an isolate of HIV from a patient who died of AIDS in 1969, the earliest confirmed case of AIDS in the United States. He is currently managing the consortium of scientists who are developing modern diagnostics for several biodefense pathogens.

Board Member

John Schieffelin

Assistant Professor
Tulane University

Dr. Schieffelin received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in 2001. He continued his training (2001-2005) in a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Residency at Tulane University. Dr. Schieffelin went on to complete a combined fellowship training program in Adult and Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and Tulane University (2005-2009). In 2009, Dr. Schieffelin joined the Tulane University School of Medicine faculty in the Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics as an Assistant Professor or Clinical Medicine & Pediatrics. His primary clinical interests include infections in transplant recipients and tuberculosis.

Dr. Schieffelin devotes a significant amount of time to the laboratory. His research is focused on pathogen-antibody interactions. Specifically, he is interested in neutralizing and enhancing antibodies that target dengue virus as well as B cell epitopes in Lassa Fever.

VHFC Member

Christopher Bishop

Program Manager
Tulane University

Chris has been with the Garry Laboratory since late 2011 where he handles day to day lab operations including work study coordination/supervision; management of finances and logistics for both domestic and international projects; and the maintenance of inventory, supplies, and equipment.
VHFC Member

James Robinson

Professor
Tulane University

James E. Robinson, M.D serves as Principal Investigator on the research project investigating the roles of protective or pathogenic B cell epitopes in human Lassa Fever. Dr. Robinson’s primary research role is to produce human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against glycoproteins of Lassa virus and other arenaviruses.

Dr. Robinson has many years of experience in generating human and monkey MAbs that recognize HIV-1, HIV-2, and SIV surface glycoproteins. He was the first to explore the identification of conserved and variant epitopes of HIV-1 SU (gp120) using human MAb produced by EBV-transformed cell lines.

Dr. Robinson has had continuous NIH grant support since 1987 for his work on producing and characterizing HIV-1, HIV-2, SIV human and rhesus MAbs. He is currently a collaborating investigator in the NIH Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI) headed by Barton Haynes at Duke University and his is a collaborating investigator in four large consortia projects funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

scripps

Site PI, Scripps

Kristian Andersen

Associate Professor
Scripps Research

Kristian Andersen, PhD is an associate professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research, with joint appointments in the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology, and at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. Over the past decade, his research has focused on the complex relationship between host and pathogen. Using a combination of next-generation sequencing, field work, experimentation, and computational biology he has spearheaded large international collaborations investigating the spread and evolution of deadly pathogens, including Zika virus, Ebola virus, West Nile virus, and Lassa virus. His work is highly cross-disciplinary and exceptionally collaborative.

Kristian earned his doctoral degree from the University of Cambridge in immunology and performed postdoctoral work in Pardis Sabeti’s group at Harvard University and the Broad Institute. He has received several awards, including the Max Perutz Prize in 2008, a Carlsberg Foundation Fellowship in 2009, and was chosen as a PEW Biomedical Scholar in 2016.

Board Member

Brian Sullivan

Institute Member
Scripps Research

My lab focuses on the mechanisms of disease during infection with viruses that cause hemorrhagic illness. We have developed mouse models of severe hemorrhagic disease to study the molecular mechanisms that underlie vascular permeability, hemorrhage, immune-mediated damage, and death. Through our partnership with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, we are translating our findings in mice to disease in humans.
VHFC Member

Michael Oldstone

Professor
Scripps Research

Michael B.A. Oldstone is a Professor in the Department of Immunology & Microbiology at Scripps Research where he heads the Viral-Immunobiology Laboratory. He focuses on viral-host interactions, especially how viruses cause disease. His work studying the prototype arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus dissected the biologic and molecular parameters of how virus infection leads to the submission or the enhancement of the immune response. Submission or subversion leads to viral persistence and enhancement to autoimmunity and immunopathology. Using experimental animal model systems, his findings, especially with virus-specific cytotoxic T cells, with molecules that negatively regulate such cytotoxic T cells and with formation and consequences of viral antibody immune complexes, have been extended to infectious diseases of humans. These paradigm observations, coupled with his work on viral variants and dendritic cell interactions have led to his election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and numerous international and national scientific awards and honors. He also served as a consultant to the World Health Organization Scientific Advisory Group of Experts and as a consultant for the eradication of poliomyelitis and measles viruses.

harvard

Site PI, Harvard

Pardis Sabeti

Professor
Harvard University

Pardis C. Sabeti is a Professor at the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. She graduated with an S.B. in Biology from MIT, an M.Sc. and D.Phil. from Oxford University, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, being the third woman ever to graduate summa cum laude.

Dr. Sabeti is an evolutionary geneticist with extensive expertise studying genetic diversity, developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of natural selection, and carrying out genetic association studies. Her graduate work at Oxford University focused on host genetic factors in Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility and studying patterns of genetic diversity to identify rapidly evolving genes. At Harvard, she has developed novel methods to detect natural selection, and applied it to the entire human genome, finding many novel candidates.

Her lab focuses on detecting and characterizing signals of natural selection in humans and pathogens and has recently identified candidate genes associated with natural selection for Lassa Fever virus infection in populations in Nigeria, recently published in Nature. Pardis’s awards and fellowships include the Rhodes Scholarship, the Soros Fellowship, L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellowship, the Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation Post-doctoral fellowship, the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, and the Packard Foundation Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Pardis is also the lead singer and bassist of the alternative rock band Thousand Days.

VHFC Member

Daniel Park

Group Leader
Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard

Daniel Park is the group leader for viral computational genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Under the direction of Institute Member Pardis Sabeti, Park leads the genomic analysis and development of computational methods for viral projects at the Broad, including work on Ebola, Lassa, and unidentified viral fevers. Park joined the Broad in 2006, and was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation in 2010. Park earned his Ph.D. in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 2013, where he developed and utilized computational tools to identify adaptations in the P. falciparum malaria parasite that allow it to evade modern drugs and global eradication efforts.

LJI

Site PI, LJI

Erica Ollmann Saphire

Professor
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. is a Professor of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Her research explains, at the molecular level, how and why viruses like Ebola and Lassa are pathogenic and provides the roadmap for medical defense. Her team has solved the structures of the Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Bundibugyo and Lassa virus glycoproteins, explained how they remodel these structures as they drive themselves into cells, how their proteins suppress immune function and where human antibodies can defeat these viruses.

A recent discovery revealed why neutralizing antibodies had been so difficult to elicit against Lassa virus, and provided not only the templates for the needed vaccine, but the molecule itself: a Lassa surface glycoprotein engineered to remain in the right conformation to inspire the needed antibody response. This molecule is the basis for international vaccine efforts against Lassa.

Dr. Saphire was also the galvanizing force behind the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium and is the Director of this organization. This consortium, an NIH-funded Center of Excellence in Translational Research, unites 44 previously competing academic, industrial and government labs across five continents to understand and provide antibody therapeutics against Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and other viruses.

Dr. Saphire’s work has been recognized at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, with young investigator awards from the International Congress of Antiviral Research, the American Society for Microbiology, and the MRC Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom. She has been awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship from the United States Department of State and a Mercator Fellowship from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, to develop international collaborations using cryoelectron microscopy to further global health.

utmb

Site PI, UTMB

Tom Geisbert

Professor
University of Texas Medical Branch

The Geisbert laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis of emerging and re-emerging viruses that require Biosafety level 4 containment and on the development of countermeasures against these viruses. Their work emphasizes studies on viruses causing hemorrhagic fever (HF) including Ebola virus, Marburg virus, and Lassa virus. Efforts focus on: 1) developing, refining and characterizing animal models that accurately reproduce human viral HF infection; 2) identifying critical pathogenic processes of viral hemorrhagic fever infections that could be exploited as targets for therapeutic interventions. Particular emphasis is placed on determining the basis of coagulopathy and shock that characterize hemorrhagic fever viral infections; and 3) measuring the therapeutic benefits of interrupting pathogenic processes that are important in the development of HF viral infection. Currently, there are no vaccines against Ebola, Marburg, or Lassa viruses approved for use in humans. Geisbert focuses primarily on using recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) as a vaccine vector for viral HF. He has shown that rVSV-based HF viral vaccines can completely protect nonhuman primates against Ebola HF, Marburg HF, and Lassa fever. Specific interest areas include modifying rVSV vectors for optimal safety and immunogenicity, identifying antigens needed to develop a multiagent vaccine that can protect against major groups of HF viruses, and determining the role of cellular and host immune responses in protection.

Tom Geisbert holds a BS from Western Maryland College, a MS from Hood College Graduate School, and a PhD from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda.

Board Member

Bob Cross

Assistant Professor
University of Texas Medical Branch

Dr. Cross’ research is centered on the biology and pathogenesis of high priority viral agents with a particular emphasis on elucidating mechanisms of vascular leak, coagulopathy, and immune derangement in viral hemorrhagic fever infections caused by filoviruses, arenaviruses, and bunyaviruses. His work utilizes a systems biology, molecular virology, and comparative pathogenesis approaches which utilize in vitro and in vivo models which accurately recapitulate human disease. The goal of this work is to dissect the events leading to disease or survival in order to develop medical countermeasures including vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Dr. Cross also has a long standing interest in the epidemiology and ecology of these viruses where a particular focus has been centered on mammalian reservoirs of viral infection.

zalgen

Site PI, Zalgen

Luis Branco

Co-Founder & Managing Director
Zalgen Labs

Dr. Branco is involved in the production of monoclonal and recombinant antigens required to support the research being conducted by the Consortium. Dr. Branco has over 18 years of research and development experience in the fields of molecular biology, immunology, virology, and cell biology particularly in the design and implementation of bacterial, baculoviral, and mammalian expression systems for the production of recombinant therapeutic molecules.

Dr. Branco began his career at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst performing post-graduate research in the field of baculovirology, including design of baculovirus expression vectors and insect cell culture processes. Dr. Branco developed industry experience with a five-year tenure at MedImmune, Inc., where he served important roles in the development of bioassays for MedImmune’s flagship product, Synagis™. In addition, he performed research in the characterization of MedImmune’s leading therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) for transplantation medicine and psoriasis, Siplizumab™. Dr. Branco then transitioned to Human Genome Sciences, Inc. where he led the Stable Cell Development Group and was responsible for the generation and characterization of human mAbs to the chemokine receptor CCR5 that blocked HIV entry into permissive cells. In addition, he developed multiple flow cytometry (FACS) based assays for the high throughput differential characterization of mAbs to 7-TM proteins, and a CCR5 receptor occupancy FACS-based assay that measured the kinetics of an HIV entry inhibiting mAb in blood samples from infected patients. Dr. Branco then joined BioFactura, Inc., a startup biotechnology company, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer, and was responsible for the bacterial and mammalian protein expression element of the aforementioned U01 grant, in addition to the generation and characterization of mAbs to recombinant LASV antigens.

Recently, Dr. Branco co-founded Zalgen Labs, LLC, where he is continuing the characterization of panels of LASV- specific mAbs, in addition to generating recombinant LASV proteins with improved antigenic properties.

VHFC Member

Matt Boisen

Director of Diagnostics Development
Zalgen Labs

Dr. Boisen has broad expertise in in vitro diagnostic product development focused on rapid, point-of-care diagnostics for detection of infectious diseases and biowarfare agents. His background in diagnostic methodology includes Lateral Flow Immunoassay, ELISA, optical biosensors and micro-array platforms spanning manual, semi-automated and fully automated systems. Dr. Boisen has over 25 years’ experience managing numerous GLP and GMP compliant development projects through experimental design, field trials, design validation and verification through regulatory approval to commercialization.

Prior to joining Zalgen, Dr. Boisen directed the infectious disease product development program at Corgenix Medical Corporation resulting in numerous rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for Lassa and Ebola Hemorrhagic Fevers. These products included two breakthrough tests: the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test, the first and still only rapid immunological test to receive both FDA Emergency Use Authorization and the WHO Emergency Qualification Listing, and the ReLASV Rapid Test, the first viral hemorrhagic fever RDT to be CE marked for IVD use. Prior to Corgenix, Dr. Boisen worked at Thermo BioStar, Inc. developing rapid biosensor assays including STEC OIA® for the detection of Shigella-like Toxin and GC OIA® for the detection of N. gonorrhea antigen both of which received FDA 510(k) clearance. He has also managed development projects for respiratory disease (Influenza and atypical pneumonia), enteric pathogens (G. lamblia and E. histolytica), and toxins (Staphylococcus enterotoxin B). Dr. Boisen has a BS degree from San Jose State University and a PhD from Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Boisen is the site manager for Zalgen’s Colorado operations and directs the diagnostic products business including grant management, product development, regulatory compliance, production, submission of scientific publications, and interaction with external collaborators including the NIH, FDA, UNICEF, and WHO.

Secretary

Doug Simpson

Senior Advisor
Zalgen Labs

Douglass T. Simpson is a healthcare industry business leader with over 40 years experience in medical devices and biotechnology. He is the former President and CEO of Corgenix Medical Corporation, a publicly traded cardiovascular and infectious disease focused company which developed the first rapid immunodiagnostic test for Ebola authorized by the FDA and the WHO for global use. Before being acquired, Corgenix was an affiliate of the VHFC, a partnership of academic, industry and research institutes including Tulane University, The Scripps Research Institute, Harvard University/Broad Institute, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston/Galveston National Laboratory, Autoimmune Technologies LLC, Zalgen Labs LLC, the Kenema Government Hospital (Sierra Leone), Redeemers University and the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (Nigeria), and various other partners in West Africa, whose mission is to promote global health and safety by creating new products to diagnose, treat and significantly reduce the incidence and mortality rate of viral hemorrhagic fevers and related neglected tropical diseases.

He holds BS and MS degrees in Biological Sciences and Parasitology from Lamar University, Beaumont TX.