Top vaccine researcher to speak at CTSI Forum on March 17

John R. Mascola, MD.

Published February 17, 2021

“As a co-author on many of the publications on the groundbreaking Moderna mRNA vaccine, John R. Mascola, MD, brings close-up insight into the development and launch of this COVID-19 vaccine that is already saving lives.”

Internationally recognized vaccine researcher John R. Mascola, MD, will be the keynote speaker at the University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Annual Forum on March 17. Mascola, Director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), will take an in-depth look at COVID-19 vaccines during the virtual forum.

Mascola’s talk, “COVID-19 Vaccines: Past, Present and Future,” is the centerpiece of the forum, which will run from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Zoom. Register here to watch the forum live on March 17.

‘Unique insight’ into vaccine development

From quotes in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to television appearances and NIH briefings alongside NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, Mascola has provided frequent insight and analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mascola was appointed as Director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers VRC in October 2013. He previously served as Deputy Director from 2000-2012, and as Acting Director between December 2012 and his permanent appointment. In addition to overseeing the basic, clinical, and translational research activities of the VRC, Mascola serves as a consultant and advisor both nationally and internationally on the development of novel vaccine strategies against HIV, influenza, and other vaccines of high public health importance.

CTSI Director Timothy F. Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, highlights Mascola’s work on vaccine development for multiple viruses, including HIV, Zika virus, and most recently, SARS CoV2.

“As a co-author on many of the publications on the groundbreaking Moderna mRNA vaccine, Dr. Mascola brings unique, close-up insight into the development and launch of this vaccine that is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 and is already saving lives,” Murphy says.

Mascola co-authored an article with Fauci and VRC Deputy Director Barney S. Graham, MD, PhD, “SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants—Tackling a Moving Target,” published by JAMA on February 11.

Presentations highlight outstanding clinical research

The CTSI Annual Forum opens at 12:30 p.m. with a welcome from Michael Cain, MD, VP for Health Sciences, University at Buffalo, and Dean, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, followed by a “State of the CTSI” presentation from Murphy.

Following Mascola’s 1:30 p.m. keynote, Anne Curtis, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, and Charles and Mary Bauer Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School, will present an overview of the Buffalo Translational Consortium Clinical Research Achievement Awards and Presentations at 2:55 p.m. Curtis is the Committee Chair of the Clinical Research Achievement Awards, which annually honor the outstanding accomplishments of clinical researchers in the Buffalo Niagara region.

The 2019 award winner, John Leddy, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Orthopaedics, Jacobs School, will present his study titled “Early Subthreshold Aerobic Exercise for Sport-Related Concussion: A Randomized Clinical Trial” at 3 p.m.

Leddy’s presentation will be followed by 2019 award finalist Dhyan Chandra, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (“Cytochrome c Deficiency Confers Apoptosome and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in African-American Men with Prostate Cancer”). Also invited is 2019 finalist Brian Clemency, DO, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Jacobs School (“Hospital Observation Upon Reversal (HOUR) With Naloxone: A Prospective Clinical Prediction Rule Validation Study”).

Next is the 2020 award winner, Teresa Quattrin, MD, UB Distinguished Professor, Senior Associate Dean for Research Integration, Jacobs School, and CTSI Special Populations Core Director. She will present her study titled “Golimumab and Beta-Cell Function in Youth With New-Onset Type 1 Diabetes” at 4 p.m.

Quattrin’s presentation will be followed by 2020 award finalists Steven E. Lipshultz, MD, A. Conger Goodyear Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Jacobs School (“Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction in HIV-Uninfected Infants Exposed in Utero to Antiretroviral Therapy”) and Gil I. Wolfe, MD, FAAN, Professor and Chair, Irvin and Rosemary Smith Chair of Neurology, Department of Neurology, Jacobs School (“Minimal Manifestation Status and Prednisone Withdrawal in the MGTX Trial”).

The forum will adjourn at 5 p.m., and will be available to re-watch in full on the CTSI website. See the full agenda here.

The positives of a virtual format

While past CTSI annual forums were held in person, Murphy believes there are unique advantages to the virtual format.

“One is eliminating the need for travel, which reduces barriers and makes it easier to attract high-level speakers like Dr. Mascola,” Murphy explains. “Another positive is that the chat feature in the remote format tends to encourage more questions and discussion.”

Whether in-person or virtual, the March 17 CTSI Forum is an opportunity to hear from notable speakers, learn more about noteworthy recent studies, and explore the future of clinical and translational research.

“While this past year was like no other,” Murphy says, “the forum once again provides us with an opportunity to look back over the previous year and look ahead to next year.”