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Emilio Emini: Wyeth Hires HIV Vaccine Pioneer
  Note from Jules Levin: Emilio Emini was a leader at Merck in R&D for Crixivan & in HIV & drug resistance. He was a leader in the field of HIV drug resistance until recently when he moved into HIV vaccine research at Merck.
November 2, 2005; Page D7
In a coup for drug maker Wyeth, Emilio Emini, a pioneer in HIV vaccines, is joining the company to head vaccine research and development.
Dr. Emini, 51 years old, comes to Wyeth from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, in New York, where he was senior vice president for vaccine development. The nonprofit group, whose backers include the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has supported research and development of vaccines to prevent HIV infection and AIDS.
Dr. Emini is scheduled to start next week as executive vice president for vaccine research and development at Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J. He will oversee about 600 scientists and technicians.
Wyeth is one of the few U.S. drug makers still active in the vaccine business. It sells Prevnar, a vaccine for pneumococcal disease, and Meningitec, a bacterial meningitis vaccine. Wyeth is working on new generations of those vaccines as well as new ones against Alzheimer's disease, HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases.
"At Wyeth, I've got the opportunity not just to work on HIV, but, in addition, I can also work on pneumococcal and menigococcal disease," Dr. Emini said in an interview. "There was nothing that caused me to leave [IAVI] other than the opportunity to go to Wyeth. During my 18 months at IAVI, I enjoyed myself tremendously and I learned a lot."
Before joining IAVI in 2004, Dr. Emini worked two decades at Merck & Co., where he led work on AIDS vaccines and the development of Crixivan, a protease inhibitor that helped doctors treat AIDS as a chronic illness. He also oversaw development of vaccines for shingles, cancer-causing viruses and diarrheal disease.
HIV researcher enlists at Wyeth
Emilio A. Emini will lead work on vaccines. He had been at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Nov 3, 2005
By Linda Loyd
Inquirer Staff Writer
Emilio A. Emini, a leading HIV-vaccine scientist, is joining Wyeth to head vaccines research and development at the company's global pharmaceutical headquarters in Collegeville.
For Emini, 51, it will be a homecoming of sorts. He spent two decades at Merck & Co. Inc., in West Point outside Philadelphia, most recently as senior vice president of vaccines and biologics research.
Emini comes to Wyeth from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative in New York, where he was chief of vaccine development since January 2004. The nonprofit group is supported by private donations, including from the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has been trying to develop a vaccine against HIV infection, which causes AIDS.
Emini will be executive vice president of vaccines research and development at Wyeth, overseeing 600 scientists and researchers.
Wyeth makes Prevnar, a vaccine for childhood pneumococcal disease, and Meningitec, a bacterial meningitis vaccine. The company is working on new forms of those vaccines as well as new vaccines against Alzheimer's disease, respiratory diseases, HIV infection, and sexually transmitted diseases.
"I wanted to get back to working on multiple biological vaccines, and Wyeth offered me a great opportunity to do that," Emini said in a telephone interview. "My one specialty is HIV vaccines. Wyeth has a significant HIV program and a significant set of programs related to various bacterial diseases."
Emini said he joined the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative 18 months ago "for an opportunity to experience the world other than the pharmaceutical industry world where I had been for 20 years. I learned a lot at IAVI. I truly enjoyed my time there."
During his two decades at Merck, Emini helped lead five AIDS vaccine candidates into human research and worked on development of the HIV medicine Crixivan.
Besides Wyeth and Merck, other drugmakers including Sanofi Pasteur Inc. in Swiftwater, Pa., and GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., with a U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia, are working on HIV vaccines.
Despite a variety of new drugs that treat HIV infection, developing a vaccine to effectively immunize against HIV, which mutates and changes rapidly, has proved difficult.
There are no HIV vaccines currently in final-stage Phase 3 study, but several are in Phase 2 study. "It's a slow march forward," Emini said.
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