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NICHD's Clemens Appointed IVI Director

By Robert Bock

Dr. John D. Clemens, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NICHD's Division of Epidemiology, Statistics, and Prevention Research, has been appointed as first director of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in Seoul, Korea. He will take a leave of absence from NICHD and serve a 5-year term at IVI.

"John has a strong background in vaccine development," said NICHD director Dr. Duane Alexander. "He is especially skillful in the evaluation of new vaccines, and the IVI chose the best person for its directorship."

IVI is a nonprofit international institute established by the United Nations in 1997 to promote the health of children in developing countries through the development, introduction and use of new vaccines.

"John is one of the world's foremost authorities and contributors to vaccine research and development for developing countries. He has made a number of outstanding contributions," said Dr. Barry Bloom, chairman of the IVI board of trustees and dean of Harvard School of Public Health.

In addition to his recent position at NICHD, Clemens is also director of the World Health Organization's Center for Clinical Evaluation of Vaccines in Developing Countries. He also serves as adjunct professor at the department of international health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Clemens' research efforts have focused on the evaluation of new vaccines in developing countries and on developing improved methods for evaluating new vaccines. Much of his research has been conducted in Bangladesh, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

"Although some projects have already begun, it's my expectation that we will greatly increase the number of the IVI's projects and substantially increase the staff there," Clemens said.

In his new position, he will develop a research program for IVI's $50 million laboratory on the campus of Seoul National University. In addition, he plans to expand current studies of disease prevalence to Japanese encephalitis, rotavirus (which causes diarrhea) and pneumococcal infections.

Clemens will also serve as chief executive officer for IVI and be responsible for the overall management of its projects and its funds. In this capacity, he will select key staff, oversee the development of new lab facilities, lead fundraising efforts and direct IVI's scientific program. But despite his enthusiasm for the IVI position, he still finds it difficult to leave NICHD for such a long period of time.

"I regret having to leave my NICHD colleagues," he said. "At IVI, however, I fully anticipate establishing scientific relationships with several of them." He will begin his term on July 1.

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