Lab Canada

Dr Alan Bernstein to lead alliance to accelerate HIV vaccine development

Cape Town, South Africa – Dr Alan Bernstein, founding president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), has been appointed executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. The organization also recently opened a new secretariat in New York City.

The enterprise is an alliance of researchers, funders and advocates dedicated to speeding the search for an HIV vaccine.

Dr Bernstein’s appointment comes after the recent announcements by Merck, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) regarding the discontinuation of immunizations in the STEP HIV vaccine trial.

“The scientific challenges of developing an HIV vaccine are enormous, but the Enterprise’s collaborative vision is a source of tremendous hope,” says Dr Bernstein. “The challenge now is to build on this momentum and implement a coherent, integrated and global scientific strategy that will hasten development of an effective and safe vaccine. The world expects nothing less of all those engaged in this endeavour.”

The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise is charged by its founders with setting scientific priorities, mobilizing resources, and improving collaboration in the HIV vaccine field. Originally proposed by 24 leading HIV vaccine researchers in 2003, the enterprise has to date mobilized more than US$750 million in support of its scientific plan. The enterprise’s plan focuses on six key research areas: vaccine discovery, laboratory standardization, product development and manufacturing, clinical trials capacity, regulatory issues and intellectual property.

“I’m proud to see one of Canada’s top scientists leading the enterprise,” says Stephen Lewis, former UN envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, and co-director of AIDS-Free World. “Alan Bernstein is an ideal choice to serve as a leader among leaders, coordinating the HIV vaccine field and working to build productive partnerships between researchers, donors, and advocates.”