University of Siena, Incheon National University and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Launch New Joint Executive Maste
Incheon, Korea: On June 8th, 2017, Incheon National University hosted a kickoff event to announce a new International partnership with the Institute for Global Health, from University of Siena, Italy. Both institutions, with support from IVI, the International Vaccine Institute based in Seoul, launched a new and unique Executive Master Program in Public Health, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Clinical Development. Successful graduates will receive a joint master degree from the Medical Faculty of University of Siena, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, and the Incheon National University, Korea.
The program is an extension of the University of Siena’s current Executive Master in Vaccinology and Pharmaceutical Clinical Development, a successful and much appraised course intended for public health and biotechnology industry professionals. Whilst the Master’s Program in Siena focuses exclusively on vaccines, this new joint master broadens the scope including the pharmaceutical development of small molecules and biologicals beyond vaccines.
The event began with a lecture by Dr. Sue Ann Clemens, Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Siena and the Director for both educational programs, and Deputy Director General of Science Dr. In-Kyu Yoon of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). Following the lecture, a press conference was held, including remarks from President Dong-sung Cho of Incheon National University, Rector Francesco Frati of the University of Siena and the Italian Ambassador to Korea, Dr. Marco della Seta. In Dr. Clemen’s presentation, she provided a summary of recent scientific advancements in vaccine development internationally, and in Dr. Yoon’s lectured on the global threat of
emerging infectious diseases.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented level of innovation in medicine – new vaccines to combat diseases such as malaria, Ebola or meningitis B; breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer including individualized treatments; or affordable biosimilars to broaden access to life saving medicines. These innovations are the results of ever increasing knowledge and biological insights, and knowledge is acquired thru learning and doing through education,” said Dr. Sue Ann Clemens. The University of Siena’s first Master Course in Vaccinology and Pharmaceutical Development was established about 10 years ago, targeting young physicians from developing countries. “Over the time we learnt that there was a need of a deeper education in vaccinology beyond developing countries, and there is also a need to better understand the pharmaceutical development beyond vaccines. This new Masters will address this - it will build on the Italian experience extending the curriculum to development of small molecules and biologicals others than vaccines, and opening the course to young and curious scientist from developed countries.” Education is at the core of innovation and breakthrough science, and the joint Master of the University of Incheon and the University of Siena with support of IVI will offer this to their students.
According to Dr. Sunkil An, Dean of the College of Life and Sciences and Bioengineering at Incheon National University, in its inaugural year the joint master’s will accept 10 to 20 students and classes will begin in September. “The program balances learning new skills in clinical drug and vaccine development with an understanding of practical global regulatory matters” said Dr. An. “This way, students will not only gain competence in biologic and vaccine development and manufacturing, but they will also gain an understanding of the regulatory, marketing and legal systems of countries outside of Asia, which is needed to successfully develop and manufacture pharmaceuticals for new markets.”
Dr. An described the curriculum of the program as including numerous courses and seminars organized into five modules totaling over 360 hours of lectures “taught by esteemed experts from all around the world at the highest international levels.” According to Dr. An, “world experts and opinion leaders from well-known international institutions as, universities of Oxford, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Imperial College; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, IVI, NIH, PEI, Sabin Institute and industry partners amongst other collaborators will be flown into Siena and Incheon to teach.” Students will also complete a six-month industry internship and complete the course with a thesis.
“This new joint bio-focused master’s program is a unique partnership between industry and academia in Korea. Most of the costs of each student’s education is covered by industry sponsors” said President Cho. “We are asking local biotech and pharmaceutical companies to sponsor the program and in return for their investment, their employees who participate in the program learn how to apply innovative and cutting-edge technologies to the discovery, assessment, development and production of biologics, and to overcome challenges in manufacturing. They will also benefit from both professional and faculty members networks, giving them the unique opportunity to connect and understand practices around the world and to apply it in Korea or anywhere else.”
For this program, a team of International Vaccine Institute (IVI) scientists, lead by Jerome Kim, an authority in HIV/AIDS vaccine development and Director General of IVI, will serve as adjunct faculty and give lectures on global health and vaccine development, and the institute may provide internship opportunities. “It is great privilege to collaborate in this joint academic program between INU and University of Siena. As an international organization devoted exclusively to vaccines for global public health, IVI is well positioned to contribute expertise and practical knowledge in global health and vaccine development.” said Dr. Ralf Clemens, Senior Advisor to the Director General of IVI. “Capacity building of human resources including industry professionals and leaders is an important part of IVI’s mission along with the development and delivery of vaccines, and this joint program will help accelerate the endeavors to make new vaccines and biotech innovations available and accessible to people who needed them worldwide.”
During Ambassador Marco della Seta’s remarks, he said, “Italy and Korea have long been cooperating in the field of science and technology. As a result, bio-robotics and biochemistry, industrial relationships on pharma-biotech are recognized as themes for common Italian-Korean initiatives. Vaccinology and immunology are central to this joint effort.”
The Ambassador cited a recent bilateral symposium, Future of Vaccine Research for a Better World, as an example of the growing relationship between Italy and Korea related to the development of new vaccines. It is thus particularly telling that the University of Siena and Incheon National University, with the support of IVI, are launching a new and unique Executive Master Program in Public Health, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Clinical Development. “The Italian Government is encouraging academic cooperation and supporting the establishment of dual international degrees, both at Master level and at PhD level,” said the Ambassador. “I congratulate both the Incheon National University and the University of Siena for setting a precedent regarding higher academic cooperation between Korea and Italy, and wish them all the best.”
According to President Cho, this unique international academia-industry collaboration will be expanded next year to accept students from many countries in northeast Asia and eventually all around the world; “The enthusiastic, knowledgeable and connected students from this program will be vital to sustaining the growth of Korea’s biotech industry and to the health and wellness of Korea’s people and all people around the world who need effective, safe and accessible life-saving medicines.” said President Cho.