-New vision emphasizes translating outcomes of vaccine research to saving lives of the world´s poor
SEOUL, KOREA- Dr. Christian Loucq was inaugurated as the new head of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), an international organization devoted to research in vaccine development and introduction for the developing world, on December 19th. Dr. Loucq will serve an initial four-year term to build upon the Institute’s successes achieved under the leadership of his predecessor Dr. John Clemens.
|IVI´s new Director-General, Dr. Christian Loucq, presents his vision for IVI during a press briefing following the inaugural ceremony. |
More than 120 people attended the ceremony held at the IVI headquarters in Seoul. Participants included Prof. Ragnar Norrby, Chairman of the IVI Board of Trustees; Mr. Kim Bong-hyun, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs at the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT); Dr. Suh You-mi, Director-General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST); Ms. Paik Ji-ah, Director-General for the International Organizations Bureau at the MOFAT; Dr. Lance Gordon, Deputy Director, Infectious Diseases, Global Health & SPL for Neglected Infectious Diseases from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Prof. Cho Dong-sung, President of the Korea Support Committee for IVI; and ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps based in Seoul that represent IVI’s signatory countries.
“I am humbled, honored, and very enthusiastic to be joining the IVI team as Director-General. Since its establishment in 1997, IVI has been a pioneering organization in many aspects of vaccinology - from R&D to epidemiology and from local manufacturing to access - aimed at preventing infectious diseases among the world´s poorest children,” Dr. Loucq said. “As the new Director-General, I will strive to increase IVI’s impact in the fight against infectious diseases in developing countries, based on its scientific contributions to the research, development and optimal use of new and improved vaccines."
|Prof. Ragnar Norrby, Chairman of the IVI Board presents Dr. Loucq his certificate of appointment as Director-General. |
Dr. Loucq has devoted his entire career to vaccines. Originally from France, he has professional experience in medicine, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and global health in countries that include Algeria, Belgium, Chad, China, India, the Netherlands, Niger, Switzerland, Thailand, the U.S., and the U.K. In addition, he managed vaccine businesses in China, India and Thailand, and worked with major vaccine companies such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur.
Most recently, Dr. Loucq was the Director of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), a product development partnership based at PATH in the U.S. MVI in collaboration with GSK and 11 teams of African scientists successfully spearheaded a major clinical trial of an experimental malaria vaccine at 11 sites in seven countries in Africa. Initial findings suggest the vaccine can effectively halve the risk of malaria infection, and it may become the world´s first viable vaccine against this deadly disease.
“IVI is most fortunate to have someone of Dr. Loucq’s caliber as its leader,’” said Prof. Norrby. “His distinguished track record and background in global public health and business makes him an ideal leader to effectively set the course for IVI’s continued success as an institute.”
The appointment of Dr. Loucq as IVI’s Director-General is especially timely, considering the momentum in the global health community to increase the use of live-saving vaccines for the developing world. The Decade of Vaccines, a 10-year commitment spearheaded by Bill and Melinda Gates to accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of vaccines to the world’s poorest countries, has been a key catalyst in getting governments, the private sector, and the public sector more involved.
Notably, Korea has become a country of interest for global health, as indicated by recent high-profile meetings between Mr. Bill Gates and President Lee Myung-bak and its entry into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a high-level forum consisting of the world’s major donor countries. Korea’s entry into DAC was significant since it was the first member to transition from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor. These developments have ignited national interest in Korea’s role in international development and cooperation efforts, including the development and deployment of vaccines for poor countries, work that is spearheaded by IVI.
As the host country of IVI, the government of Korea has provided generous support to ensure that the Institute seamlessly carries out its global mission through the donation of the Institute’s headquarters building with state-of-the-art laboratories, and contributing to IVI’s annual operating budget. When it made the successful bid to host IVI in the 1990s, Korea wished to repay what it received from the international community during and after the Korean War, and has been one of IVI’s most generous donors to date.
With support from Korea and donors such as the government of Sweden and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IVI conducts research in more than 30 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, including North Korea. Through IVI, the world’s first low-cost oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol™, was developed. The vaccine recently achieved World Health Organization prequalification and is ready for global use, with plans to deploy the vaccine in Haiti, India, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia to combat cholera. As well, the Institute is developing new and improved vaccines against typhoid fever and dysentery, two deadly diarrheal diseases in the developing world.
“Korea’s support of IVI best exemplifies the country’s desire to contribute to the world,” Dr. Loucq said. “I look forward to strengthening our partnership with the Korean government and building new partnerships around the world in which together, we will make major contributions to achieving our shared vision of a world where all children living in the world´s poorest countries are protected by vaccines against killer infectious diseases.”
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the world’s poorest people, especially children in developing countries. Established as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program in 1997, IVI operates as an independent international organization under a treaty signed by 40 countries and the World Health Organization. The Institute conducts research in more than 30 countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, as well as Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever, and develops new and improved vaccines at its headquarters in Seoul, Korea. For more information, please visit: www.ivi.int
Attachment 1: Inaugural address, Dr. Christian Loucq, IVI Director-General
Attachment 2: Speeches for inauguration of IVI Director-General Dr. Christian Loucq