Vaccines are one the most successful and cost-effective public health tools known to man for preventing disease, suffering, and death. The development of vaccinations is a never-ending field of study to enhance global well-being, and countless individuals working in immunology and related fields have dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life for individuals all around the world. Doctors, researchers, politicians, and funding masterminds have all made critical contributions to our knowledge of vaccines, but this list gives special recognition to ten people and groups who have made particularly remarkable contributions to vaccines and the field of immunology.
1. Seth Berkley- CEO of GAVI Alliance
After working as a medical epidemiologist and managing different world vaccine development programs, Berkley now serves as the CEO of one of the largest public-private global health partnerships. His mandate as leader is very simple: to make life-saving vaccines available as soon as possible to everyone who needs them, regardless of the individual’s ability to pay. GAVI is currently in phase three of a five-year strategy to achieve their overall mission: to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015 and possibly save four million more lives.
2. Dr. Paul Offit- Pediatrician
As an American pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, it’s no surprise why Dr. Offit has been and continues to be recognized for his accomplishments in vaccines and immunology. After working 25 years on developing an effective vaccine against rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea in infants, his RotaTeq vaccine was approved by the FDA and continues to save hundreds of lives every day.
3. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation- Largest Private Foundation
Bill Gates could get attention simply for being one of the world’s wealthiest people, but this remarkable philanthropist has done far more than just amass wealth. In 2000, Gates and his wife created the charitable “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” which is now one of the world’s wealthiest charitable foundations. They are dedicated in tackling persistent global health and development problems by working closely with other global programs. They strive to create and improve preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic interventions for infectious diseases worldwide. The Foundation’s efforts fall into four main areas of focus including vaccine discovery, drug discovery, maternal and child health, and control of disease-transmitting mosquitoes.
4. Carolyn Miles- President & CEO of Save The Children
Save the Children is an international non-governmental organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief, and helps support children in developing countries. Carolyn was the first woman to lead the charity, and, under her leadership, she has doubled the number of children the organization reaches with health, nutrition, education, and other programs. Recently, Carolyn spearheaded the Every Beat Matters campaign which aims to end preventable child deaths. Proceeds from the sale of “Feel Again” on iTunes went to training frontline health workers to provide lifesaving services including vaccinations and management of chronic and communicable diseases.
5. Ian Frazer- Creator of HPV Vaccine
The fact that devastating cancer can be prevented with a vaccine is nothing short of remarkable. Ian Frazer, the CEO and Director of Research at the Translational Research Institute, was behind the development of the HPV vaccine that prevents against cervical cancer. In 2006, the vaccine finally got approval for use in the U.S and was the second cancer preventing vaccine to be created. Frazer has received more than twenty awards for scientific research over the years.
6. The Invisible Threat- Independent Documentary
This film, released in 2014, focuses on understanding the science of vaccinations and the misperceptions that all too often lead parents to delay or decline life-saving immunizations for their children. The independent documentary was produced by high school filmmakers, and it has earned recognition from more than fifty organizations. The Invisible Threat film has become so powerful that it’s becoming part of the curriculum in many schools across the U.S.
7. Paul David Hewson “Bono”- Co-founder of ONE Campaign
Aside from winning twenty-two Grammys along with his U2 bandmates, Bono is also a well-known activist in the fight against AIDS and the co-founder of the ONE campaign. ONE is an international advocacy organization of more than four million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases, particularly in Africa. ONE works closely with GAVI Alliance to assist in reaching their goal of immunizing a quarter of a billion more children by 2015. ONE recently celebrated its ten year anniversary and the remarkable progress it has made in the global fight against poverty over the past decade.
8. Steve Davis- President & CEO of PATH
When Steve took over as PATH’s new CEO in 2012, he wasted no time and immediately developed and advanced a global strategy for the Infectious Disease Research Institute. PATH is an international health organization driving transformative innovation to save lives. The organization affirms that no one, no matter where he or she lives, should die of a preventable disease. PATH focuses on the importance of getting common vaccines and immunizations around the world and spreading awareness of emerging and epidemic diseases. Steve continues to successfully lead PATH’s overall strategy and represent the organization all over the world.
9. Dr. Gregory Poland- Director of Mayo Vaccine Research Group
Dr. Poland and his team within the Vaccine Research Group aim to improve the health of individuals all around the world by pursuing challenges posed by infectious disease. Through their research, they hope to explain how vaccine-induced immune responses and events may be genetically determined, and therefore predictable. Dr. Poland is currently overseeing five active projects regarding vaccines and genetic variables. He continues to be in the spotlight for his professional achievements and has received numerous awards for his expertise in the field of vaccines and biodefense.
10. Gordon Dougan- Head of Pathogen Research & Board of Management for Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Throughout Dr. Dougan’s career, he has served as a referee, advisor, and consultant for numerous institutions, boards, universities, and committees. He has been heavily involved in the movement to improve vaccine usage in developing countries. Currently, he is the head of the Microbial Pathogenesis group, working on the genomics of host and pathogen reactions. In 2012, Gordon was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his important contributions to studies on the molecular basis of the infection process and to the development of practical vaccines.