The International Vaccine Institute (IVI), the only international organization headquartered in Korea, renewed its commitment to fight diseases and poverty by accelerating the development and deployment of new vaccines through a ceremony marking its eighth anniversary.
The ceremony, held at 6 p.m. October 11 at the IVI, brought together some 200 guests, including representatives of some 40 foreign missions in Seoul, and senior government officials from Korea, as well as donors and members of the Korea Support Committee for the IVI. The two-hour event consisted of three main parts: an official session and a gala reception followed by dinner.
During the official session, the IVI acknowledged, among others, 19 key donors and supporters, including Prof. Wan-kyoo Cho, former President of Seoul National University and former Chairman of the KSC for IVI Board of Directors; Dr. Young-sup Huh, incumbent Chairman of the KSC Board (Chairman of Green Cross); Dr. Kye-ho Lee, Chairman of the STC Group; Mr. Sang-bok Kang, Chairman of KTRD; and Ms Joanne Lee, who is leading the "Thank you, Korea!" fundraising campaign.
In particular, the reception featured a traditional costume presentation by contestants of World Miss University from some 30 countries, which highlighted the international scope of IVI´s mission. The IVI will appoint the Miss World University contestants as its goodwill ambassadors for their respective countries at Sheraton Walker-Hill Hotel on October 14.
This year´s Foundation Day event comes about one year after President Roh Moo-hyun transferred a new state-of-the-art headquarters building, valued at $150 million, to the Institute in October last year. Over the past year, the IVI´s global humanitarian research efforts have gathered a significant momentum to ensure the world´s poorest children have the same access to life-saving vaccines as those in rich nations.
For one, the IVI is running ample laboratory research programs to develop new vaccines at its headquarters on the campus of Seoul National University. Its laboratory programs are led by its new Deputy Director General for Laboratory Science, Dr. Cecil Czerkinsky, a world renowned vaccine development expert, and are buttressed by talented young Korean biotechnologists. The laboratory research synergistically complements the Institute´s established field research programs to accelerate the introduction of new vaccines for the poor in 21 countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
These programs seek to develop and deploy vaccines against ´neglected diseases´ including cholera, shigellosis, and Japanese encephalitis, and could help save up to 5 million deaths a year. "Through these efforts, the IVI is making important contribution to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ambitious global agenda to significantly improve the human condition by 2015," IVI Director General Dr. John Clemens said. Noting that IVI´s mission concerns three of the eight MDGs: ´eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,´ ´reduce child mortality by two thirds,´ and ´develop a global partnership for development,´ Clemens said, "We will double our efforts to fight diseases and poverty through vaccines in line with the MDGs." In particular, the Institute aims to take on development of new vaccines against avian influenza, which poses the threat of a global influenza pandemic.
The IVI is the world´s only international research organization devoted exclusively to the research and development of new vaccines for the poorest children. Established as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program in 1997, the IVI has 36 countries and the World Health Organization as signatories to its Establishment Agreement, and 100 staff from 17 countries. The IVI is supported by many governments and philanthropists, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is supported in Korea by the KSC for IVI comprising some 60 prominent citizens, including the First Lady Madame Kwon Yang-suk who is serving as the Honorary President.