February 16, 2022
Statement of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
National Institutes of Health
I extend my heartfelt gratitude and deepest respect to John R. Mascola, M.D., as he announces his retirement as Director of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Mascola will leave NIAID at the end of March.
Under Dr. Mascola’s exemplary scientific leadership, and through partnerships that he championed, the VRC has made extraordinary advances to combat some of the greatest public health threats of our time. Most notably, he and his team at the VRC collaborated with Moderna to develop the mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine that has now been administered to millions of people in the United States. The vaccine is based on a stabilized spike protein technology developed by VRC scientists working under Dr. Mascola’s direction, together with collaborators. This same technology is now being used in other COVID-19 vaccines, and the concept of structure-based vaccine design is also being investigated for its potential in vaccines against other diseases. Additionally, Dr. Mascola led the VRC’s efforts to develop monoclonal antibodies for use in treating COVID-19.
Even before arriving at NIAID, Dr. Mascola was already an internationally recognized leader in HIV research, making seminal contributions to the field. He has continued and extended his work on HIV since coming to the VRC. Notably, he and his colleagues identified and developed for clinical use potent antibodies for the potential treatment and prevention of HIV.
Under Dr. Mascola’s direction, VRC scientists have developed investigational vaccines and antibody products against other significant public health threats such as Zika, chikungunya, respiratory syncytial virus, Ebola, Marburg, and malaria. Of note, the FDA-approved monoclonal antibody treatment for Ebola, known as mAb114 or ansuvimab, was developed by VRC scientists. Dr. Mascola also has provided guidance to VRC scientists as they continue to make advances toward the long-held goals of both an HIV vaccine and a universal influenza vaccine.
Dr. Mascola joined NIAID in 2000, first serving as the deputy director of the VRC, and then becoming its director in 2013, while also serving as chief of the VRC virology laboratory. He has been one of my principal advisors on vaccines and related biomedical research affairs throughout his time here. While I will continue to enjoy his friendship and his wise counsel, I will greatly miss his leadership and vision at the VRC.
Following Dr. Mascola’s departure at the end of March, Dr. Richard Koup, current Deputy Director of the VRC, will serve as acting VRC director pending a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.