Leaders of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital today announced an agreement to move Sabin's vaccine development program to Texas Children's and BCM as part of the recruitment of world renowned neglected diseases expert Dr. Peter Hotez. (Read a bio of Dr. Hotez.)
The comprehensive initiative will include the establishment of the first national school of tropical medicine in the United States at BCM. Hotez will serve as the founding dean.
The entire Sabin Vaccine Institute vaccine development program will relocate to Texas Children's and BCM. The Sabin Vaccine Institute's advocacy and education programs will remain at the institute's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Hotez will continue to serve as president.
The collaborative program represents a significant expansion of efforts to develop and test vaccines for a range of diseases affecting low-income populations in the United States and worldwide. One of the focuses nationally will be in South Texas.
A memorandum of understanding outlining the framework for the groundbreaking collaborative program was signed today by leaders of the three institutions: Morton P. Hyman, board chair of the Sabin Vaccine Institute; Mark Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children's; and Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of BCM.
"Dr. Peter Hotez is an iconic figure in neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development," Klotman said. "His work has impacted millions of the world's poorest people. With his leadership in these new programs at Baylor and Texas Children's, our commitment to global medicine is accelerated to the top tier of academic institutions. He is truly a remarkable leader."
"Texas Children's and Baylor share a history of helping disadvantaged children, not only in our own community, but around the world. Dr. Hotez brings with him an amazing team and an incredible passion, and his contributions to tropical medicine will help us to significantly expand the reach and impact of Texas Children's Center for Global Health," said Wallace.
"The transition of Sabin's vaccine development operations to Texas Children's Hospital is a natural evolution of our work to create vaccines that spare hundreds of millions of people from needless suffering," said Hyman. "Together with our new partners, we believe that this collaboration signals a breakthrough in vaccine delivery for neglected diseases. In addition, this affiliation offers opportunities for Sabin's Global Network and advocacy programs."
Representatives of BCM and Texas Children's will be joining the Board of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.
Hotez leaves his position as chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Diseases at George Washington University to make the move to Houston. He will begin his leadership roles at BCM and Texas Children's on Aug. 1. Along with serving as dean of the new school of tropical medicine, he will serve as director of the vaccine development program and hold the Texas Children's Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics. He also will serve as chief of a new Section of Tropical Diseases in the BCM Department of Pediatrics.
"Dr. Peter Hotez is a one-of-a-kind pediatric physician-scientist, and he represents the kind of transformative talent we are attracting to Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine from around the nation and globe," said Dr. Mark W. Kline, physician-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital and chair of pediatrics at BCM. "The absolutely novel work that he does in vaccine development has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds of millions of the world's least fortunate children."
Hotez is president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. He is a current member of the NIH Council of Councils Committee, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Hotez will bring a group of more than 20 scientific experts in vaccine development and neglected diseases, including Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi , who will lead product development efforts and serve as associate dean of the new school.
"We have an extraordinary opportunity with these new collaborative programs to make an important difference in global health," said Hotez. "Both Baylor and Texas Children's share the Sabin Vaccine Institute's vision of providing medical solutions that improve the lives of those living at the lowest income levels."
"The school of tropical medicine will rely on harnessing the scientific horsepower of the Texas Medical Center and applying it towards solving global health problems," he said. "And this vaccine development program will be larger and stronger than the existing program we have now at Sabin, which is exemplary."
"We will be making an unprecedented assault on the diseases of poverty in the world." Hotez said.
Specifics of the programs will be outlined in the coming weeks. Generally, the initiatives include:
The school of tropical medicine will be BCM's fourth school, joining the medical school, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Allied Health Sciences. It will be the only School in the country to have an exclusive focus on tropical medicine. It will initially offer a tropical medicine diploma and then a master's of science degree in tropical medicine. With its establishment, BCM provides a critical – and missing – link in addressing a shortage of expertise.
Sabin Vaccine Institute's Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Vaccine Advocacy and Education programs will remain at Sabin headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sabin Vaccine Institute was founded in 1991 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the oral polio vaccine developer.
The Vaccine Development Program will be relocated to Texas Children's as a joint program of the three institutions. The group will study and develop vaccines related to neglected tropical diseases. The infrastructure of the program will support the development of vaccines from basic laboratory research through its transition into clinical testing, all performed by the efforts of Sabin and its academic and government partners. Currently, there is a clear gap in global capacity to produce affordable vaccines for diseases such as hookworm, schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases. Following on Sabin's work over nearly two decades, the development of a world class research facility at Texas Children's represents a significant investment in preventing diseases that plague the world's poor.
The new Section of Tropical Diseases in the BCM Department of Pediatrics will focus on parasitic infectious diseases that impact children around the world. These diseases affect millions of children, predominantly in poor countries. The new section will bring together existing BCM faculty experts and add to their ranks and expertise. Also joining the leadership team on parasitic infections will be scientists Bin Zhan, Kathryn Jones, Michael Heffernan and Jordan Plieskatt, along with others expected in the coming months.