Building on existing technology developed at the university, the funds will establish the Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center, which aims to create a better understanding of how the immune system can be harnessed to develop vaccines for the most deadly infectious diseases. To that end, the center will award seed grants to researchers in diverse fields working to provide a detailed profile of the human immune response, determine why some people are able to fight off pathogens while others remain vulnerable, and identify the most promising vaccines for clinical trials.
According to Mark Davis, principal investigator at the new center, animal models have been largely unsuccessful in vaccine development, with multiple candidates shown to work in mice and non-human primates failing in human trials. "What we need is a new generation of vaccines and new approaches to vaccination," said Davis, the Burt and Marion Avery Family Professor of Immunology and director of Stanford's Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and Infection. "This will require a better understanding of the human immune response and clearer predictions about vaccine efficacy for particular diseases."
"We are pleased to make this grant, which is all about enabling collaboration," said Chris Wilson, director of the Discovery and Translational Sciences program at the Gates Foundation. "It will enable vaccinologists to take advantage of the state-of-the-art technologies that Stanford has developed to monitor the human immune response and allow Stanford investigators to collaborate to help solve the real-world problems we face when trying to harness the power of the immune system to provide protection for those in the developing world."