January 13

Focus: Basic Science, Behavioral Science, Policy
Attendance: 434
Clubhouse du Jour: Bldg 19, CDC (1600 Clifton Rd)

Suffer the Little Children:
Circulating Vaccine Derived Polio Viruses (cVDPV)
-- Risks, Response, and Results

The impact of cVDPVs on our effort to achieve and sustain global polio eradication

Walt Orenstein, MD
Deptuy Director, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Global Health Program
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Risks: The Biology and Epidemiology of cVDPV
Definitions, molecular characteristics, and cVDPV outbreaks to date

Olen M. Kew, PhD
Chief, Molecular Virology Section, Division of Viral Diseases
Center for Disease Control and Prevention


Response: Surveillance for cVDPVs
Testing procedures, risk factors for emergence, and response to control measures
Mark A. Pallansch, PhD
Chief, Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory Branch
Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Have you ever imagined what could happen if a strain of the live attenuated virus used in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) were to mutate inside a population in which a substantial number of children are either unvaccinated or insufficiently vaccinated against polio? Specifically, if it were to mutate into something capable of causing paralysis?

Exactly .... Nightmare City. Even as over 3.5 million cases of polio have been prevented in the last decade alone, unvaccinated and undervaccinated children could be EXTREMELY vulnerable to the sort of health outcome NO ONE wants for their children.

But this nightmare is happening in Nigeria, right now. A mutated polio virus is wandering around loose in a population whose children are insufficiently vaccinated.

What went wrong? How large is the problem? What do we do now? What CAN we do now?

Come to the January meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club and find out!!

Hope to see you for Dinner at the Club in January,


February 3

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 231
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Young Guns:
A Sampler of Georgia Research Alliance
"Distinguished Investigators"

Donald Harn Jr. PhD

Department of Infectious Diseases
University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine
Parasitic Worms... Don't You Wish They Would Just Stop Hanging Around?:
The Impact on a Patient's Health and Ability to Respond to HIV-1 Vaccines
Bad news ... Parasitic worms suppress the immune system.
Worse news ... Worm-suppressed immune systems basically ignore the new generation of experimental HIV-1 vaccines.
Question: If you go to the pharmacy and get de-wormed before getting an HIV-1 jab, will the vaccine work better? Come find out!

Elizabeth Wright, PhD
Department of Pediatrics / Infectious Diseases
Emory University School of Medicine
Up Close and Personal:
A Cryo-EMer's Search for Antiviral Targets

Cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) is what those of us who don’t have Superman’s retinal capacity use when we want to look very, very closely at complex biological systems (think: at macromolecular resolution of 2 to 4 nm). Dr. Wright’s lab uses cryo-ET for the visualization of pleomorphic viruses (i.e. tricky little viruses that can take on variable appearances) and small whole cells. She focuses (quite literally) her attention on the structural analysis of pathogenic viruses in order to develop novel, structure-specific vaccines and therapeutics.

Yukai He, MD, PhD
MCG Cancer Center & Department of Medicine
Medical College of Georgia
The Postman Always Rings Twice:
Twisting HIV to Work for Us as a Vaccine Delivery Vector

HIV doesn’t look anything like Jack Nicholson but it IS a shady drifter that can cause mayhem wherever it goes. But HIV's ... shall we say “intimate”... relationship with the human immune system ALSO offers us an opportunity to manipulate its interaction with immune cells and bend it to our will as a vehicle for delivering antigens! With clinical trials using lentivector for gene therapy underway, the potential of using lentivector for immunization is becoming increasingly appreciated.


March 1

Focus: Translational Research
Attendance: 172
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Going Green:
Retooling Coffin Nails (Tobacco)
to Manufacture Vaccines

Charles Arntzen, PhD

Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, The Biodesign Institute
Regent's Professor and Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair
Arizona State University

Convincing green plants to serve as organic Manufacturing Plants for the production of pharmaceuticals has been a good idea on paper for more than 15 years, but actual products from the process have only very recently started to emerge. Last year (2009), after watching every cartoon ever produced by Warner Brothers and noticing that Bugs Bunny has never once appeared with the symptoms of Gaucher’s Disease, Pfizer negotiated the worldwide marketing rights to a protective protein produced in carrot cells.

Not to be outdone, Ventria has discovered that rice can be used to produce lactoferrin and lysozyme (think: bactericidal antiseptics) which comes with considerably less ICK factor than harvesting said enzymes in commercially viable amounts from the other places in which they are naturally found ... human milk, tears, and saliva.

At the same time Bayer and VAXX have reprogramed Leaf to produce tobacco-derived vaccines for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Bayer) and norovirus (VAXX).

And as if the above isn’t good enough all on its own, using green plants instead of brick and mortar ones to produce vaccines speeds up the process (think: weeks vs months), makes it cheaper (you can plant a REALLY BIG garden for less than the cost of a single protein purification vat), and could finally give tobacco farmers in North Carolina a reason to feel good about getting up and going to work every day.

In short -- a health solution that is cheaper, faster, and more ethically straight forward ... How cool is that? We may have stumbled on one answer to every public health practitioner’s prayer!!!

Intrigued? Come to the MONDAY, March FIRST meeting of the VDC and hear Dr. Arntzen talk about how a tobacco-based system can produce new vaccine variants in bulk within a few weeks’ time, in contrast to the multi-month timescales that are typical for animal cell-based production technologies; the advantages of a biomanufacturing platform in terms of capital cost avoidance for commercial scale up of protein production; the advantages that tobacco provides in gaining regulatory agency acceptance of a new vaccine in comparison to alternative protein production platforms; the advantages in “downstream” purification of antigens from tobacco leaves; and the use of new technology to discover and exploit peptide ligands which specifically bind to virus-like particles and thereby are a low cost means of purification of the final antigen to be in NoroVAXX™

Hope to see you for dinner at the Club on MONDAY, March 1,


April 21

Focus: History, Epidemiology, Policy
Attendance: 142
Clubhouse du Jour: Whitehead (615 Michael St)

Balto, Bacteria, and the End of the Cold Chain:
The Role of Vaccines in Alaska's Fight Against
Infectious Disease

Tom Hennessy, MD

Arctic Investigations Program
National Center for Infectious Diseases, CDC
Anchorage, Alaska

In January, 1925 twenty teams of sled dogs forged the ultimate cold chain when they relayed a 25 pound package containing 300,000 desperately needed units of diphtheria serum 674 miles across Alaska from Nenana to Nome in the teeth of a storm so severe and vast that, 3,770 miles away, New York’s Hudson River froze over.

The bravery and commitment required by the diphtheria epidemic’s “Mercy Run” is unimaginable — travelling day and night teams faced teeth shattering temperatures that dropped to 85 degrees below zero (-65 C) and hurricane force winds that reached 80 miles per hour (129 kph), willingly risking life and limb in the process -- driver William “Wild Bill” Shannon arrived at the first handoff with several parts of his face black from severe frostbite and when Edgar Kallands -- the next driver -- arrived at the his handoff he had to have hot water poured over his hands before they could be peeled off the sled handles...

The tenacity of the dogs is just as awe inspiring. Leonhard Seppala’s 12 year old dog Togo, the most famous sled dog in Alaska’s history, led the longest and most dangerous stretch of the relay. Travelling at an average of 8 miles an hour for 10 hours, Togo led his team straight as an arrow across the dangerous ice of Norton Sound through darkness and whiteout conditions so intense that Seppala couldn’t see the hand in front of his face. In one day they covered 84 miles, including a 5,000 foot climb over Little McKinley Mountain.

When it was his turn, the last dog in the chain, Balto -- of whom there is a statue in Central Park in New York City — faced down headwinds so strong that at one point they flipped the heavy sled completely over and carried the serum package out of sight into a snowdrift. [Note: making a decision to sacrifice his hands if necessary, driver Gunnar Kaasen took his gloves off so that he could grope blindly around in the snow until he found it]. Despite the hurricane force headwind, Balto kept his team moving through the night down a trail no one could see all the way into Nome. Arriving at 5:30 in the morning Kaasen is reported to have stumbled silently to the front of the team, delivered the package, and collapsed -- having said only: "Damn fine dog."

Kind of puts the efforts you are making to get ready for the July 4th Peachtree Road Race into perspective, doesn’t it?

Want to hear more? Come to the APRIL 21 meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club!! From the Nome serum run to the new 13 valent pneumococcal vaccine, Alaska's history and development have been inescapably linked to infectious diseases. At a meeting that will be TOTALLY worth all the wait, Dr. Tom Hennessy, the Director of the CDC's infectious disease arctic field station, will discuss vaccine success stories and the challenges that lie ahead in reducing health disparities in America's Last Frontier.

Be there or be left out in the cold,

PS: This story was excerpted from Balto's True Story.com. Read more about it there.


May 5

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 242
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Innaugural Meeting of the "Mahy Seminar" The Mahy Seminar is an annual lecture featuring the globe's top virologists. It honors the outstanding career of Dr. Brain Mahy and acknowledges his unparallelled role in expanding the field of virology at the CDC and beyond.

Combined meeting of the VDC & Mahy Seminar 2010

Knock, Knock ... Who's There?:
Understanding Paramyxovirus Entry by Membrane Fusion

Robert Lamb, PhD, ScD

Former PhD student in the Mahy lab (Cambridge)
Member, National Academy of Sciences
Editor-in-Chief, Virology
John Evans Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Northwestern University
Professor, Microbiology-Immunology, Northwestern University Medical School

Brian Mahy BSc, MA, PhD, ScD, DSc is much more than just arm candy for his wife Penny. A charter member of the VDC, Dr. Mahy is a senior scientific advisor for the CDC National Center for Infectious Diseases and an adjunct professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Mahy came to the CDC in 1989 as director of the division of Viral Diseases. Before that he headed the division of Virology in the department of Pathology at Cambridge University and was director of the Animal Virus Research Institute in Surrey (UK) which, among other things, houses the world reference laboratory for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (which is NOT the same thing as Foot-in-Mouth Disease). A world-renowned virologist, Dr. Mahy has been president of the International Union of Microbiological Societies (1999–2002) and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, not to mention a mucho prolific author.

The Mahy Seminar was convened in 2010 under the directorship of Paul Rota, PhD to honor Dr. Mahy's life and legacy and we at VDC central are proud to co-sponsor the Seminar's innaugural lecture ... not only has Brian contributed his focused intellect and killer sense of humor to the Club over the years, he and Penny may hold the Club record for most meetings attended!

The Seminar's kickoff speaker is Dr. Robert Lamb, a world expert on paramyxoviruses, the bad bugs that cause measles, mumps, distemper, and Newcastle disease (an illness you DO NOT want your pet chickens to get).

When Dr. Lamb began his PhD program at Cambridge he studied Sendai -- a paramyxovirus that makes life a misery for rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs -- in the Mahy lab and flourished under Brian's enthusiastic mentorship: "He taught me that you can do things apart from science, and do them well."

After leaving Cambridge Dr. Lamb did a postdoc at Rockefeller University with Dr. Purnell Choppin (with whom he discovered a protein -- M2 -- that influenza uses to reproduce and infect a host) before moving to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. At Northwestern Dr. Lamb has focused on mapping the structure of the protein that paramyxoviruses use to fuse to a cell in the first stage of infection. Among the other interesting discoveries about this protein was their observation that it transmorgifies on contact with a host membrane -- like that character who is always threatening to suck the faces off all the red shirts in a straight-to-video SciFi movie, the protein reaches out, hooks its target, reels it in, and shape shifts to make a perfect fusion fit.



June - August

Summer Vacation 2010
The VDC Membership

Focus: Rest and Relaxation
Attendance: 2,160
Clubhouse du jour: The World

Wherever there is a vaccine to disseminate, a vaccine preventable disease outbreak to examine, or fun to be had with friends and family -- VDC members will be there in force!


September 1

Focus: History, Public Health
Attendance: 302
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

The Fatal Menace of MRSA


Maryn McKenna

aka "Scary Disease Girl"
Award winning science and medical writer
Author: Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the
Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service

Last Blast of Summer Kick Off to the 2010-2011 Vaccine Dinner Club season!!

And since we will be meeting BEFORE Labor Day feel free to celebrate the event by showing up wearing white, flip flops, pool side cover ups, white poolside coverups with matching flip flops, or anything else that Miss Manners would have you keep deeply closeted between the first Monday in September and the last Monday in May (Memorial Day).

Our presenter, Maryn McKenna, is a charter member of the VDC and remains active in the club even though her membership status is currently set at “foreign correspondent” while she lives away from Atlanta looking for ever more scary vaccine-related topics to write about.

THIS month’s scary topic is about something we WISH we had a vaccine for ... methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — a bug behaving badly that kill ~19,000 people in the USA each year and puts almost 20 times that many in the hospital with a bacterium that blows raspberries at our most muscular meds.

Intrigued? Read more about it at http://www.superbugthebook.com/

Hope to see you and your guests at our Last Blast of Summer meeting!


October 6

Focus: History, Policy
Attendance: 382
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Emancipation Through Eradication:
Slaying the Fiery Serpent

An update on the Humans vs Guinea Worms War

Donald R. Hopkins, MD MPH

Vice President for Health Programs
The Carter Center

Did you ever see the second Star Trek movie ("The Wrath of Khan") in which we learn that the Ceti eel likes to crawl into an unsuspecting person’s ear, burrow into their brain, wrap itself around their cerebral cortex, and — in addition to causing excruciating pain and death — make them do things that an infected person knows they really shouldn’t do?

Well, Guinea worms are Ceti eel’s first cousins ... only worse. Not to mention real.

People catch Guinea worm disease by drinking water that is infested with (essentially invisible) water fleas that harbor even smaller guinea worm larvae in their gut. When you digest the water flea it releases the guinea worm babies, who burrow their way out of your intestines into various cavities of your body where they set up housekeeping, briefly date (think: eat, prey, kill) and build new larvae. The female guinea worms keep on growing (up to 4 feet long!!) until she decides it is time to lay her eggs. To do THAT she has to get out of your body and, at the same time, convince you to dunk her in a source of drinking water, so the cycle can start again.

To start the process, she tunnels outward from deep inside your body, usually (but not always) into an arm or leg and creates a blister at skin level. When the blister bursts — revealing the business end of the worm — an infected person experiences the most searing pain imaginable and an almost unconquerable desire to dunk themselves in water. So, unless the person is prevented from doing so, the worm will end up back in the drinking water supply over and over and, every time the worm gets wet, she spews hundreds of thousands of larvae into the obliging mouths of trojan horse water fleas, to start the cycle all over again.

That’s the bad news. The worse news is that the only way to remove an entrenched guinea worm is to wrap the end that is sticking out of your body around a stick and ease the worm out, 1/4 inch a day, for weeks or months until all 2-4 feet of worm have been removed. This process is said to feel pretty much like sticking the affected limb into an open fire and leaving it there.

At this point those of you who are even still reading this are wondering isn’t there any GOOD news? Well, yes, and our October VDC speaker, Dr. Donald Hopkins is going to tell us all about it.

Donald Hopkins was born in south Florida (one of 10 children) and has spent his career championing public health causes that most people don't know — or, worse, don't care — even exist. While the world's attention is focused on AIDS, H1N1, and other high profile diseases, Dr. Hopkins has been busy way out past the back side of beyond, quietly — and successfully -- battling river blindness, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and yaws — all diseases that foist unbelievable levels of preventable misery on the world.

Dr. Hopkins is a man that former President Jimmy Carter counts among "the few heroes in my life." He has been awarded the CDC Medal of Excellence, the Distinguished Service Medal of the U.S. Public Health Service, the Fries Prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1995 for his leadership in the campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease.



November 3

Focus: Basic Science
Attendance: 290
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Would You Like Tea With That?:
The Development of Rice-based Oral Vaccines

Hiroshi Kiyono, DDS, PhD

Division of Mucosal Immunology
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
The Institute of Medical Science
The University of Tokyo

From the University of Tokyo website: Since the 1970s, I have been investigating and characterizing unique features of the mucosal immune system to establish mucosal immunology as an area of the immunology field as well as to develop effective and safe mucosal vaccines against infectious diseases and mucosal immune therapies against allergic and inflammatory diseases.

We have recently developed cold-chain- and needle-free rice-based vaccines (MucoRice) with the cooperation of agricultural researchers. The vaccine antigens exogenously expressed in MucoRice are temperature-stable for at least 2.5 years and are resistant to digestive enzymes, thus they effectively induce vaccine antigen-specific protective immunity in both systemic and mucosal compartments against toxins produced by pathogenic microorganisms (e.g., cholera toxins).

Additionally, our efforts aim to clarify the immunological cross-talk between the mucosal immune system and mucosal environmental factors (e.g., commensal bacteria and dietary materials) in immunological homeostasis. These studies will lead to the development of novel immune therapies against mucosal immune diseases, such as food allergy, rhinitis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.


December 1

Focus: History, Policy
Attendance: 375
Clubhouse: WHSCAB (1440 Clifton Rd)

Plan B:
What To Do In The Absence Of An
AIDS Vaccine

Kevin M. DeCock, MD, FECP (UK), DTM&H

Center for Global Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On April 24, 1984 Margaret Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Reagan Administration, called a press conference to announce Robert Gallo’s discovery of a virus he called HTLV-III. In her own words: "...The probable cause of AIDS has been found, a variant of a known human cancer virus. We hope to have a vaccine ready for testing in approximately two years."

Over 9,700 days later we are are still waiting for the "two years" to elapse.

Granted, we’ve made a LOT of progress in the intervening time.

But even with all that there is still no assurance that Ms. Heckler’s "two years" won’t continue to stretch out and out and out ... so join us for the December 1 meeting of the Vaccine Dinner Club to talk with Dr. Kevin DeCock about what to do in the intervening days ahead.

De Cock is De Man .... you AREN’T going to want to miss this.