Representatives Anna Eshoo and Mario Diaz-Balart and developers of the RTS,S malaria vaccine honored with GHTC Innovating for Impact Awards
The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) yesterday honored Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) for their leadership in supporting global health research and development (R&D) at its 2019 Innovating for Impact Awards, an initiative celebrating the US policymakers and partnerships driving global health innovation. GHTC also recognized the partnership that developed the RTS,S malaria vaccine—the world’s first malaria vaccine—for its efforts to advance this breakthrough technology.
“I want you to know how much this means to me,” Congresswoman Eshoo said in accepting her award. “But I want to salute all of you….I draw from all of you and what you do….This genius of America will move us forward….When we succeed, when we discover, when we lead, we give hope to the entire world.” Congresswoman Eshoo, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, was honored with a Congressional Champion Award for her instrumental role in establishing the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and for her efforts to strengthen the ecosystem in which the vital work of US health research agencies is carried out.
GHTC also recognized Congressman Diaz-Balart, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, with a Congressional Champion Award for his work to protect funding for global health programs and his sponsorship of the Global Health Innovation Act to support research programs at the US Agency for International Development. “Investments in global health R&D are so critical‒so critical‒to make the world not only a healthier place, but a safe place for all of us….The US leads the world in global health R&D…and it’s so important that we continue to support programs that are so essential to this field,” Congressman Diaz-Balart said in accepting his award.
GHTC presented the Partnership Award to Dr. Ashley Birkett, Director of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative at PATH, and Dr. W. Ripley Ballou, Vice President and Head of the US R&D Center, and Dr. Opokua Ofori-Anyinam, Director of Clinical Development, at GSK Vaccines, who accepted the award on behalf of the many partners who have supported the development of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. Developed through a unique product development partnership, led by GSK and PATH, with critical contributions from the US Department of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), other US agencies, and countless partners—and now in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) —; RTS,S is the world’s first, and to date, only vaccine that has demonstrated it can reduce malaria in children. Over thirty years in the making, the vaccine is now undergoing pilot implementation in three sub-Saharan African countries and has the potential to substantially contribute to malaria control efforts and save tens of thousands of children’s lives.
“On behalf of PATH and our partners, we are honored to receive this award and to have contributed to advancing this important new tool to save children’s lives,” said Dr. Birkett. “A vaccine for malaria is among many innovations needed to bring an end to this devastating disease, and we proudly stand with our partners in progressing towards a malaria-free world.”
“This vaccine is the result of decades of dedication and collaboration between GSK scientists and our public and nonprofit partners to harness cutting-edge vaccine science to contribute to the fight against malaria,” said Dr. Ofori-Anyinam. “GSK is honored to be recognized alongside our partners as we continue our research to tackle one of the most pressing global health challenges.”
Dr. Ofori-Anyinam was joined onstage by Yvette Collymore, Communications Manager for the Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access at PATH; Dr. Mary Hamel, Lead of the Malaria Vaccine Implementation Programme at WHO; and Colonel Viseth Ngauy, Director of the Malaria Vaccine Branch at WRAIR, for a dialogue discussing their organizations’ contributions to advancing the RTS,S vaccine.
Attendees also heard from Dr. Carrie Wolinetz, Acting Chief of Staff and Associate Director for Science Policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who delivered a keynote address on behalf of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins who had an emergency conflict that prevented his attendance.
“GHTC is thrilled to honor Congresswoman Eshoo, Congressman Diaz-Balart, and the developers of the RTS,S malaria vaccine with our Innovating for Impact Awards,” said Jamie Bay Nishi, director of GHTC. “US leadership in global health R&D has helped fuel tremendous progress in generating new cures and vaccines to fight the world’s deadliest diseases, and we’re so delighted to recognize the outstanding work of our honorees who helped make this progress possible.”
Global health R&D is vital to conquering the world’s greatest health challenges and to building a safer, healthier world for all. Now in its third year, the Innovating for Impact Awards celebrates US commitment to global health R&D and honors the multisector partnerships and policymakers helping to transform breakthrough scientific research into lifesaving technologies for unmet global health challenges.