SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vir Biotechnology, Inc. today announced the appointment of Antonio Lanzavecchia, M.D., as Senior Vice President and Senior Research Fellow, effective immediately. Reporting to Chief Executive Officer George Scangos, Ph.D., Dr. Lanzavecchia will provide scientific leadership for Vir’s technical programs that are designed to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases.
In addition to this role, Dr. Lanzavecchia will continue to serve as the director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland and as a professor in the faculty of biomedical sciences at the Università della Svizzera italiana.
“Antonio is an exceptional scientist who has helped transform the field of human immunology so that exciting new approaches to tackling infectious diseases are now available,” said Dr. Scangos. “He will be instrumental in the pursuit of our strategy to integrate diverse innovations in science, technology, and medicine to create treatments that induce protective and therapeutic immune responses.”
Dr. Lanzavecchia is recognized for his contributions to the development of the field of human immunology. His discoveries on antigen presentation, dendritic cell biology, and immunological memory have implications for the development of new therapeutic approaches and vaccines. Dr. Lanzavecchia’s lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine developed high-throughput cell-based screens to isolate potent and broadly neutralizing antibodies from human memory B cells and plasma cells. These antibodies represent candidates for passive vaccination, as well as tools for vaccine design. His lab is also addressing basic questions on the role of somatic mutations in protective antibody responses and on the role of a new mechanism of antibody diversification based on templated insertions that they discovered in malaria-immune individuals. Dr. Lanzavecchia has more than 300 publications and several patents to his name and has served on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science and on the editorial boards of Journal of Experimental Medicine and European Journal of Immunology.
Dr. Lanzavecchia earned a medical degree from the University of Pavia, where he specialized in pediatrics and in infectious diseases and worked for almost two decades at the Basel Institute for Immunology. He has been a professor at the University of Genova and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich. He is member of the European Molecular Biology Organization of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences and is a Foreign Associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Global Impact of Infectious Disease
Chronic and acute infections impact hundreds of millions of people every year. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 260 million people in the world living with hepatitis B infection, with millions of new infections annually. Millions also contract seasonal influenza, resulting in three to five million severe cases and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths globally. In the U.S. alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of influenza-related deaths has ranged from 12,000 (2011-2012) to more than 50,000 (2012-2013), and the potential for a pandemic flu outbreak continues to be a priority for the CDC.
Vir integrates diverse innovations in science, technology, and medicine to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases. Vir is taking a multi-program, multi-platform approach to applying these breakthroughs, including the development of treatments that induce protective and therapeutic immune responses. Vir’s scale and scope, together with leading scientific and management expertise, allow it to perform significant internal R&D, in-license or acquire innovative technology platforms and assets, and fund targeted academic research. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with operations in Portland, Oregon, Boston, Massachusetts, and Bellinzona, Switzerland. To learn more, visit www.vir.bio