The COVID-19 pandemic has brought life-changing disruptions to people around the world—and it’s been a major disruptor to vaccine development, too. The combination of urgent need and unprecedented public investment turned the typical R&D process on its head. Now, with pandemic vaccines launching at record speeds, we talk with experts in infectious disease research to examine the lessons learned from the pandemic and how they might change future vaccine development. How can new vaccine technologies stave off future outbreaks? After COVID, will researchers—and biopharma companies—increase their focus on other known infectious diseases? Will vaccines attract more investment and partnerships? 

Featured Speakers

Rajeev Venkayya, MD

President, Global Vaccine Business Unit
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.

Rajeev Venkayya, M.D. is President of the Vaccine Business at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and member of the board of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Dr. Venkayya previously served as Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense at the White House, where he was the principal author of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, and the Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is trained in pulmonary & critical care medicine.

Dr. Melanie Saville

Director of Vaccine R&D
CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations)

Melanie Saville is Director of Vaccine Research & Development at CEPI where she leads a technical team who have oversight of CEPI-funded vaccines in development, including COVID-19 vaccine candidates. She is a physician specialized in virology and over the years has contributed to the development and licensure of a number of vaccines, including seasonal and pandemic influenza, pediatric combinations, rabies, and Japanese Encephalitis.

Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, PhD

Chief Technology Officer

Mariola Fotin-Mleczek, Ph.D., is Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CureVac. She trained in biology at the University of Stuttgart. Her scientific expertise includes immunology, cell biology, signal transduction, apoptosis and mechanism of cellular uptake. She joined CureVac in May 2006 and was responsible for the development and preclinical testing of mRNA technology applied in different therapeutic areas including oncology, infectious diseases and protein therapy. She is the inventor of multiple mRNA technology patents and author of more than 30 scientific publications with a focus on mRNA technology.

Swati Gupta, DrPH, MPH

Vice President, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Scientific Strategy

Swati Gupta leads IAVI’s Emerging Infectious Disease product portfolio and the development of the organization’s overall scientific strategy. She has a particular focus in leveraging IAVI’s recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) platform and expertise to expand product development efforts beyond HIV, including leading the vaccine development programs for other emerging infectious diseases such as Lassa Fever, Marburg, and most recently SARS-CoV-2.

Karen Ersland, PhD

Research Scientific Liaison
BD Life Sciences—Biosciences

Karen Ersland lives and breathes immunology and flow cytometry. With over 15 years of flow cytometry experience that spans academic, industry and clinical settings, Karen is heralded for being an impactful scientific partner. After receiving her PhD in Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she merged her technology expertise and commercial experience through various roles at BD Life Sciences — Biosciences including Applications Scientist, Clinical Applications Manager, and Sales Specialist. Her passion lies in helping customers achieve their innovative scientific breakthroughs. She is currently a Research Scientific Liaison where she serves as the bridge between science and technology.