Celdara Medical and Global Virus Network Announce Collaboration to Advance Infectious Disease and Viral Infection Research and Development

The partnership will initially focus on SARS-CoV-2 and future pandemic threats.

BALTIMORE, MD and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and LEBANON, N.H. and NEW YORK, June 2, 2021 — Celdara Medical, LLC (Celdara), an experienced biopharma developer focused on launching promising products to the patients who need them the most, today announced a new strategic collaboration with the Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries. As part of the Pandemic Security Initiative (PanSec) and the mission of the GVN, the two organizations will advance collaborative research on emerging and infectious diseases and fast spreading viral infections by identifying promising diagnostic tools, neutralizing antibodies, vaccines and drugs. An initial strategic focus will be on broad spectrum antivirals.

PanSec is a public-private partnership, striving to ensure preparedness for the next pandemic. Celdara has a robust early stage anti-infectives pipeline and extensive experience in pre-clinical pharmaceutical development which forms the foundation from which the PanSec was launched.

“We are thrilled to work with GVN through our Pandemic Security Initiative, which seeks to deliver on the promise of innovation in universities, government labs and businesses to prepare and protect us from future infectious disease pandemics,” said Dr. Jake Reder, Celdara’s cofounder and CEO. “The world was caught largely unaware by SARS-CoV-2; however, we believe history need not repeat itself with future viruses and epidemiological threats. One key learning from recent events is that no one institution, country or organization can solve a global disease threat alone. GVN has amassed a worldwide network which brings together the finest medical virologists to address the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. Through the combined expertise of GVN, Celdara and PanSec, we can deliver on the most promising medical innovations and provide clinicians and first responders with powerful new medicines and tests.”

The standard drug development model doesn’t work for sporadic infectious diseases – without a market to provide returns there can be no private investment. Built on Celdara Medical’s successful business model, PanSec seeks to bridge this gap by unleashing innovation for patient and societal benefit by tapping into an existing innovation pipeline that spans the U.S. and beyond. Celdara has partnerships with research universities and institutions across the country and is harnessing their collective expertise as a part of the initiative.

“Our international network of academic virologists regularly generates important discoveries that have the potential to improve pandemic preparedness if they can be quickly and professionally developed. The partnership between the GVN and Celdara Medical will complement GVN’s work,” said Christian Bréchot, President, GVN and Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters.. “Long before COVID appeared on the global stage, viruses caused millions of deaths each year. Since our founding in 2011, GVN’s coalition of eminent virologists from around the world have been working to identify and understand viruses, with a long term goal to prevent illness and death. We look forward to continuing our important work in collaboration with PanSec,” said Prof. Robert Gallo, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder & Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Co-Founder & Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the GVN..

About Celdara Medical
Celdara Medical was founded by Drs. Jake Reder and Michael Fanger in 2008 and is headquartered at the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center (DRTC) in Lebanon, N.H. Celdara Medical builds academic and early-stage innovations into high-potential medical companies, identifying discoveries of exceptional value at the earliest stages and moving them toward the market. Celdara Medical partners with inventors and their institutions, providing the developmental, financial, and business acumen required to bridge discovery and profitability. With robust funding options, a diverse and high impact Programmatic pipeline, and partnerships with world-class academic institutions and industry leaders, Celdara Medical navigates all aspects of a complex industry, accelerating science to improve human health.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

About The Pandemic Security Initiative
The Pandemic Security Initiative seeks to protect the nation from future pandemics by developing medical countermeasures that integrate the best of ground-breaking science, entrepreneurial innovation, public-sector investment, and private-sector efficiency. With support from the public and private sectors, including the Department of Health and Human Services, its mission is to identify and develop innovative diagnostics, prophylactics, and therapeutics against pandemic scale threats. Celdara Medical initiated this work in 2014 and formalized it under the Pandemic Security Initiative umbrella in early 2020 to capture learnings from and aid in the response to COVID-19. Celdara Medical’s Academic Partner Network includes collaborations with over 60 leading universities, and thousands of pipeline innovations from hundreds of universities and research labs spanning all 50 states and dozens of countries. The Pandemic Security Initiative is an entrepreneurial, operating, health-security product developer. For more information on the Pandemic Security Initiative visit www.pansec.org.

Global Virus Network Analysis Suggests Measles, Polio and Tuberculosis Vaccines May Boost Immunity to Coronavirus

Innate Immunity Created by Live Attenuated Vaccines Like Measles and Polio May Provide Some Protection Against Future Pandemics – Idea Needs To Be Tested, Scientists Say

BALTIMORE, MD, May 18, 2021: Members of the Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition comprised of human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries, and colleagues today published a perspective proposing that live attenuated vaccines (LAVs), such as those for tuberculosis, measles, and polio, may induce protective innate immunity that mitigate other infectious diseases, triggering the human body’s natural emergency response to infections including COVID-19 as well as future pandemic threats.

The scientists suggest that LAVs prospectively might offer a vital tool to bend the pandemic curve, averting the exhaustion of public health resources and preventing needless deaths, and merit being studied. The perspective was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

“A review of epidemiological, clinical and biological evidence suggests that induction of innate immunity by existing LAVs, that is, the broadly effective vaccines, can protect against unrelated infections such as coronavirus, and could be used to control epidemics caused by emerging pathogens,”  said Dr. Robert Gallo, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder & Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Co-Founder & Chairman of the International Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network.

Dr. Gallo said, “This approach is worthy of prompt further study due to the probability of future pandemics. This could be a stop-gap before specific vaccines are made.  But even in the current pandemic they may be of use in non-affluent nations where the specific vaccines are not available.

“Our innate immune response is the first line of defense against invading, new pathogens. The outcome of any infection depends on the race between the pathogen and the host defense systems. The innate immunity and enhancing defense pathways provided by widely-used and well-recognized vaccines could substantially mitigate, or even prevent, infection from other pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. This is especially valuable because LAVs can fill the gap until specific vaccines are available and in particular when they have not reached certain countries globally.

“We very actively support the marvelous COVID-19-specific vaccines, and nothing in this publication conflicts with the development and use of these effective vaccines,” said Dr. Michael Avidan of the Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University, St Louis, MO.  “We are suggesting that in the absence or availability of pathogen-specific vaccines, particularly in the beginning phase of a pandemic, that LAVs be rigorously tested to determine whether they can control infection and disease progression.”

“Even in the case of a microorganism such as SARS-CoV-2, for which we have been able to develop vaccines fairly quickly, it is still a minimum of one and a half to two years until a safe and effective vaccine can be produced, tested, distributed, and delivered globally,” said Dr. Dean Jamison, a leading global health economist of the Institute for Global Health Sciences, University of California, and the GVN. “In this period, countless lives have been lost and economic havoc has been unleashed in the world economy. This could be even more tragic in the case of a future pandemic for which the development of a vaccine is more challenging, transmission is more rapid, or herd immunity more difficult to achieve. LAVs that stimulate innate immunity could serve as a stop-gap until an effective vaccine is widely available.”

“Besides protecting against infection, innate immunity stimulation also has the potential to be used therapeutically in the early stages of disease, as well as to boost the effectiveness of vaccines that promote a specific adaptive immune response. This potential, while theoretical, is also worthy of further study,” said Dr. Konstantin Chumakov, Associate Director for Research for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and a GVN Center Director.  “As we wrote last year in a perspective published in Science, studies with the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) from the 1960s and 1970s demonstrated nonspecific immune protection and found that OPV reduced the incidence of seasonal influenza and acute respiratory disease.”

In 2014, a World Health Organization (WHO)-commissioned review at the recommendation of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on vaccines (SAGE) concluded that LAVs reduced child mortality by more than expected. The same patterns were observed in high-income settings, including in the U.S., as having a live vaccine as the most recent vaccine being associated with a halving of the risk of hospitalization for non-targeted infections. The WHO review advised more research regarding the beneficial heterologous effects of LAVs; to date, no such WHO studies have been conducted.

The authors said that because of the huge toll that the current pandemic has taken on a global basis, looking into all possible options is essential. Despite the unprecedented brief time that it took to develop, test and deliver the current vaccines, it still took a year and a half and if LAVs could help stimulate innate immunity, they could help delay the global impact of a new pandemic while a new vaccine is being developed.

“There is immense readiness and massive financial support to develop and deliver the novel specific vaccines, but very little to test LAVs for use during a pandemic, despite their potential to prevent needless suffering and help mitigate social and economic carnage in any future pandemic. There are even some advantages in that they work very promptly, are low cost and likely to be readily available. Furthermore, their safety profile is often well-established. But we must acknowledge there are likely limitations because they do not last very long, perhaps only a few months, said Dr. Gallo.

“My esteemed colleagues and I are urgently calling on governments, philanthropy and non-profit foundations to support testing of an LAV strategy to determine whether LAVs can protect high-risk populations such as healthcare workers and the elderly as well as low-income populations worldwide, thereby reducing social and economic inequities.”

In addition to Dr. Robert Gallo, Dr. Konstantin Chumakov, Dr. Michael Avidan, and Dr. Dean Jamison, the authors of the PNAS viewpoint include Dr. Christine Benn of the Department of Clinical Research, GVN Center of Excellence, University of Southern Denmark; Dr. Mihai Netea of the Department of Internal Medicine and Radboud Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboud University Medical Center, a GVN Center of Excellence; Dr. Annie Sparrow of the Department of Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Dr. Stefano Bertozzi of the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley and the GVN; Dr. Lawrence Blatt of Aligos Therapeutics and the GVN; Dr. Angela Chang of the Danish Institute for Advanced Study, University of Southern Denmark; Dr. Shabaana Khader of the Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine; and, Dr. Shyam Kottilil of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, GVN Center of Excellence.

Addendum Quotes

“LAVs against tuberculosis and smallpox have been associated with better long-term survival,” said Dr. Christine Benn of the Department of Clinical Research, GVN Center of Excellence, University of Southern Denmark. For example, OPV campaigns in West Africa have been associated with a 25% reduction in all-cause mortality, with each additional dose reducing mortality by a further 14%.”

“Several basic science observations make clear the central importance of innate immunity in controlling coronaviruses including SARS-1, SARS-CoV-2, and MERS,” said Dr. Mihai Netea of the Department of Internal Medicine and Radboud Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboud University Medical Center, a GVN Center of Excellence. “Further, control of coronaviruses by bats is largely associated with an appropriate balancing of innate immune responses between resistance and tolerance.”

“It is critically important from both scientific and public health perspectives that we complete rigorous trials evaluating the effectiveness of LAVs in preventing COVID-19 or mitigating its severity,” said Dr. Annie Sparrow of the Department of Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The findings from these trials will inform if, and how, we could incorporate LAVs into our toolkit against future pandemics.”

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 63 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 35 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:

Nora Samaranayake, GVN
443-823-0613
[email protected]

Global Virus Network (GVN) Announces Eight Distinguished International Appointments to Board of Directors

World Leaders in Business, Science, Law, Industry, Philanthropy & Government Are Committed to Supporting the GVN

Baltimore, MD, USA (April 6, 2021) – The Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of the world’s leading medical virology research centers working together to prevent illness and death from viral disease, today announced the election of eight distinguished global leaders to its Board of Directors.  They include Daniel J. Arbess, CIO of Xerion Investments, LLC and CEO of Xerion Precision Biosciences LLC;  Marc Bonneville, DVM, Scientific & Medical Director, Fondation Mérieux; Tomas Cihlar, PhD, Vice President, Virology, Gilead Sciences; Lan Kennedy-Davis, JD, Partner, RumbergerKirk; Yang Liu, PhD,  Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, OncoC4, Inc and Adjunct Professor, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; David Scheer, President, Scheer & Company, Inc.; Yiming Shao, MD, PhD, Chief Expert on AIDS, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Vice Chair, Chinese Microbiology Society and Chair Professor, Zhejiang University; Pan Zheng, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, OncoC4, Inc and Adjunct Professor, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The announcement was made today by Robert Gallo, MD, Co-founder and Director, Global Virus Network (GVN) and the Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence, Tim Moynahan, Chairman, The Moynahan Law Firm and Chairman, GVN Board of Directors and Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, GVN President and Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned after discovering the first human retroviruses, including co-discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and developing the HIV blood test, is that researchers need a GVN to share and disseminate important information seamlessly, without government politics or financial limitations,” said Dr. Robert Gallo.  “The current pandemic is yet another example of this urgent need, and I am pleased these new distinguished Board members value the work of the GVN from the past ten years and join us in our commitment to advance science and save lives.”

“I look forward to working with my fellow Board members and their expertise to advance the mission of the GVN,” said Tim Moynahan“Whether it is in the world of science, industry, law, government, business or philanthropy, each of these leaders and their expertise are essential global assets in the collective fight against viral threats around the world.”

“We are most pleased to welcome these distinguished new members to the GVN Board of Directors,” said Dr. Christian Bréchot“From the public to private sectors, GVN Board members contribute to the management of our organization and help grow our reach in both visibility and impact around the globe.”

“I am honored to contribute to GVN’s core mission of advancing collaborative science, global consensus, communication and pandemic preparedness,” said Daniel J. Arbess, CEO of Xerion Precision Biosciences, LLC.  Mr. Arbess is a multi-asset class investor, lawyer and social entrepreneur whose 35-year career has been defined by engagement as an adviser, investor and entrepreneur across of range of significant geopolitical, economic and healthcare developments.

“Joining the GVN network gives me the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable initiative and to participate in the major challenge of coordinating expertise to better prepare for future epidemics,” said Marc Bonneville, DVM, Scientific & Medical Director, Fondation Mérieux.  Dr. Bonneville is an accomplished immunologist with previous leadership positions at INSERM, Institut Mérieux and the Alliance for Research and Innovation of Healthcare Industries (ARIIS).

“I am excited to join the GVN board,” said Tomas Cihlar, PhD, Vice President, Virology, Gilead Sciences.   “It is dynamic and a quickly growing organization with a real impact not only on global virology science and education, but also on critical aspects of pandemic preparedness.”  Dr. Cihlar coordinates Gilead’s preclinical antiviral research across HIV, hepatitis, respiratory, and emerging viruses.  He has contributed to the development and regulatory approval of multiple antiviral therapies including many Gilead’s antiretrovirals and their combinations and led the preclinical and early clinical development of remdesivir.

“I am honored to work with such esteemed experts in their field and to be a part of GVN’s worldwide humanitarian efforts,” said Lan Kennedy-Davis, JD, Partner, RumbergerKirk.  Ms. Kennedy-Davis is a premier commercial litigation and corporate transactional attorney whose practice focuses on general and complex litigation and corporate transactions, including business and shareholder matters, intellectual property disputes, bankruptcy litigation and high stakes and assets family law cases. She has a strong business background, is an economist and a former business consultant to Fortune 500 companies and international entrepreneurs.

“We are so pleased to contribute our understanding of inflammation to a global effort to confront the heath challenges from viral infection,” said Yang Liu, PhD, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, OncoC4, Inc and Adjunct Professor, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Dr. Liu’s academic research includes the fundamental mechanisms of immune recognition, cell metabolism and cancer biology, and is a driving force in elucidating the mechanisms by which the innate immune system discriminates microbial infection and aseptic tissue injuries.

“I am proud to have been formally elected to serve on the Board of the GVN, an organization which has unique importance in the world today as we face the challenges of the current and potential future pandemics,” said David Scheer, President, Scheer & Company, Inc.  “I am particularly thrilled to work with the other members of the Board and with Bob Gallo, whom I have known since the late 1970s.” Mr. Scheer is an advisor and serial entrepreneur in the life sciences including building two antiviral drug development companies.  His career includes providing corporate strategic and transactional advisory services in the life sciences industry.  He also had a longstanding career in the global and public health arenas, working with some of the top researchers, thought-leaders.  He led a bioscience task force in Connecticut that gave rise to the Reopen CT Advisory Group, of which he served as a member, working with the State and its Governor to reopen in May of 2020.

“It is of paramount importance to keep a voice of independent virologists through the GVN in the era of viral pandemics and in a pan-politicized world,” said Yiming Shao, MD, PhD, Chief Expert on AIDS, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Vice Chair, Chinese Microbiology Society and Chair Professor, Zhejiang University.  “Only such a voice can help stop harmful, global conspiracies spreading during the COVID-19 pandemic and rightfully focus efforts to fight the virus together, instead of blaming each other.” Dr. Shao’s many accomplishments include isolating China’s first HIV strain, leading a national task force to build national laboratory networks for HIV diagnosis, molecular epidemiology and drug resistance surveillance, and conducting HIV vaccine research based on replicating vaccinia vector that concluded phase I/II clinical trials.  He serves on the WHO Vaccine Product Development for Vaccine Advisory Committee and HIV Cure Advisory Committee of International AIDS Society.

“We are delighted to be part of GVN to translate basic knowledge to clinical care of patients,” said Pan Zheng, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, OncoC4, Inc and Adjunct Professor, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Dr. Zheng’s academic research focuses on immuno-oncology and inflammation. Dr. Zheng was trained in anatomic and clinical pathology and is a board-certified Physician with the American Board of Pathology.

Both Drs. Liu and Zheng co-founded OcnoImmune, Inc. until its acquisition by Merck, Inc. Drs. Liu and Zheng designed and executed the clinical trials for the company, including most recently a Phase III clinical trial, in conjunction with colleagues at the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, establishing strong therapeutic efficacy of CD24Fc for hospitalized severe and critical COVID-19 patients.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, existing and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 62 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:

Nora Samaranayake, GVN
[email protected]

A Statement From the Leadership of the Global Virus Network on the Passing of Dr. John Martin

An Outstanding Clinical Scientist, A Dedicated Humanitarian, An Astute Businessman, An Effective Global Leader, and A True Friend

Baltimore, MD, April 1, 2021: The Global Virus Network, the world’s leading coalition of virologists combatting current and emerging pandemic viral threats and viral causes of disease through international collaborative research response, mourns the passing of its good friend and fellow GVN Board of Directors member, John Martin, PhD.  Dr. Martin was an outstanding clinical scientist, astute businessman and global leader.  His leadership in drug development, particularly for HIV and hepatitis B and C, along with his generous philanthropy, saved many lives.

“John Martin is irreplaceable and his passing is a devastating loss to many,” said Robert C. Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and International Scientific Advisor and The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence.  “The fields of medicine and science have many notable leaders who contribute to public health. But it is John’s leadership at Gilead Sciences that stands out and resulted in the successful development of antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and influenza. Further, the global public health response to HIV/AIDS was immensely facilitated by John, which is unique among the global pharmaceutical industry. His humanitarian leadership resulted in more than 10 million HIV infected persons receiving lifesaving therapies with the best drugs available.  His life’s work lives on in those he mentored and in The John C. Martin Foundation, among many others. We extend our deepest sympathies to John’s family, especially his life partner, Lillian Lou.  Our very close friend will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Martin was an exceptional individual whose towering leadership of Gilead Sciences led to a profound impact on human viral diseases worldwide.  His leadership resulted in the successful development of antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and influenza.  More importantly, Dr. Martin recognized the importance of making these critical therapeutic advancements available not just to the wealthy nations of the world, but worldwide, to include even those infected persons in the most impoverished regions of the globe.  He developed a sustainable system that is treating an accelerating number of persons in low income countries, thus producing a program that has measurable results and demonstrates enormous impact on global health.

“John Martin’s contribution in virology and also as a member of GVN’s Board was immense, particularly in bringing us together with the pharmaceutical industry,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the GVN, Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at University of South Florida (USF), and Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters.  “He was an extraordinary example of what academic science can offer when it is associated with an entrepreneurial mindset.  We will deeply miss his guidance and expertise and GVN will work to honor his legacy in all that we do.”

“I am deeply saddened by John Martin’s sudden passing,” said Tomas Cihlar, PhD, GVN Board of Directors Member, Vice President, Virology, Gilead Sciences, Inc. “His scientific knowledge and business vision combined with genuine passion to bring much needed treatment for devastating viral infections not only to the privileged, but equally so to the underserved communities was truly unparalleled in our society. We all will miss John sorely.”

“John and I shared many wonderful scientific and clinical milestones over four decades,” said Raymond Schinazi, PhD, GVN Board of Directors Member, Professor of Pediatrics and Director, GVN Center Director, Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, Emory University, a GVN Center of Excellence.  “My happiest memory was when John agreed to provide Sovaldi to Egypt and the Republic of Georgia, thus, saving millions of lives in these low-income countries. He deserves our eternal gratitude for these, and many other, actions and will be dearly missed.”

Dr. John Martin joined Gilead Sciences in 1990 and was Executive Chairman from March 2016 through March 2019. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from June 2008 through March 2016, and President and Chief Executive Officer from 1996 through May 2008. Prior to joining Gilead, Dr. Martin held several leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Syntex Corporation. He invented ganciclovir in 1982 and contributed to the research, development and commercialization of a number of antiviral drugs active against HIV, cytomegalovirus, influenza, and hepatitis B and C.

In addition to the GVN, Dr. Martin served on the Board of Directors of Kronos Bio and The Scripps Research Institute. He previously served as President of the International Society for Antiviral Research, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BayBio, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI). He served on the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Council, the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Board of Directors for CHI, the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago, the Board of Trustees of Golden Gate University and the External Scientific Advisory Board of the University of California School of Global Health. Additionally, Dr. Martin served on the Centers for Disease Control/Health Resources and Services Administration’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment and was a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Martin holds a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago, an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BS degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. He received the Isbell Award from the American Chemical Society and the Gertrude B. Elion Award for Scientific Excellence from the International Society for Antiviral Research. In 2008, he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies. In 2014, Dr. Martin received the IHV Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service.  In 2019, he received the National Academy of Sciences Award for Chemistry in Service to Society.

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, existing and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 62 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 34 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

Media Contact:
Nora Samaranayake, GVN
[email protected]

Global Virus Network (GVN) Catalyzes World Health Organization (WHO) to Officially Recognize HTLV-1 as Threatening Pathogen to Humans

March 29, 2021

During GVN’s 9th International Meeting in Melbourne, Australia on September 25-27, 2017 in partnership with the Peter Doherty Institute and the Institut Pasteur, researchers held impressive sessions on one of the most potent human carcinogens, human T cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1).  The sessions were organized by Dr. Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Director of Doherty’s GVN Center of Excellence and Dr. Damian Purcell, member of GVN’s HTLV-1 Task Force and Head of the Molecular Virology Laboratory in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Doherty.  In particular, Dr. Lloyd Einsiedel, a member of the GVN HTLV-1 Task Force and of Baker Institute in Australia, reported serious HTLV-1 endemic cases in Central Australia.

The group of renowned scientists and activists were moved by the presentations to call on the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the promotion of proven, effective transmission prevention strategies on this debilitating and deadly virus.  An abbreviated version of the letter, Time to eradicate HTLV-1: an open letter to WHO, co-authored by Dr. Robert Gallo, Co-Founder, International Scientific Advisor to the GVN and member of GVN’s HTLV-1 Task Force and The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Center of Excellence; Dr. Fabiola Martin, member of GVN’s HTLV-1 Task Force and a Sexual Health, HIV and HTLV Physician and scientist based in Brisbane/Australia; and Dr. Yutaka Tagaya, member of GVN’s HTLV-1 Task Force and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, was published in The Lancet online and in the print May 12, 2017 issue.  The full letter, with many signatories, was published on the GVN website.  The call-to-action was covered by major global media and scientific journals including CNN, ABC, The Guardian, Science and Nature Medicine, among others.

Since 2017, GVN members such as Dr. Eduardo Gotuzzo, member of GVN’s HTLV-1 Task Force and GVN Center Director of the Instituto de Medicina Tropical “Alexander von Humboldt” IMTAvH of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH), have worked with Ministers of Health around the globe to also call on the WHO to recognize HTLV-1 as a threatening pathogen to humans.

In late 2018, the WHO organized a review on HTLV-1, including on its epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical impacts and invited the scientific community to assist. Dr. John Kaldor of the Kirby Institute of Australia, and a member of the GVN HTLV-1 Task Force, was chosen by the WHO to assemble a team and provide a review on the issue. Dr, Andrew Ball, the Senior Strategy and Operations Adviser in the Department of HIV/AIDS of WHO, subsequently organized a meeting in Tokyo in March 2019 and invited over 50 researchers/clinicians/patient representatives to the meeting to discuss a consensus on recommendations for the WHO relating to HTLV-1. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Toshiki Watanabe of University of Tokyo, the President of the International Retrovirology Association (IRVA) and a member of the GVN HTLV-1 Task Force.  The meeting was published in February 2021.

Finally, in March 2021, catalyzed by GVN’s initiative and commitment by its members, the WHO published several articles recognizing HTLV-1 as a relevant pathogen to humans.

While the sudden outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has slowed down the process, the WHO has finally properly recognized the threat of HTLV-1 to humans. We expect that this action will influence the scientific community, public health agencies in many countries, pharmaceutical industry and even investors to focus their attention and funding in support of research, drug development, clinical treatment, and social environment to combat HTLV-1.