FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND THE INTERNATIONAL AIDS VACCINE INITIATIVE OPEN THE WORLD'S ONLY LABORATORY DEDICATED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN AIDS VACCINE
State-of-the-Art, 36,000-Square-Foot Facility Located at the City-owned Brooklyn Army Terminal Will House Scientists to Design Promising AIDS Vaccine Strategies
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) President and CEO Dr. Seth Berkley to cut the ribbon on a new AIDS Vaccine Design and Development Laboratory - a 36,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility located within the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal. IAVI's Design Lab is the only facility in the world to be dedicated exclusively to the development of an AIDS vaccine. Scientists at the Design Lab - together with partners in academia, the private sector and government - will design and advance promising AIDS vaccine strategies, with the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic through an effective vaccine, accessible to all. The Design Lab, which will ultimately provide 60 jobs once fully staffed, is the first part of a developing science center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal that will eventually host hundreds of bioscience-related jobs. The Mayor was joined at the at the new facility for the announcement by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, State Senator Martin J. Golden, Scripps Research Institute Professor Dennis R. Burton and University of KwaZulu-Natal Pro Vice Chancellor Salim Abdool-Karim.
"New York City - already home to many of the world's finest healthcare and research institutions - is getting a major boost as a global center of science and innovation with the opening of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative's state-of-the-art Design Lab," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We have taken a wide range of steps to promote new industries and diversify our economy, and the New York City Bioscience Initiative and our efforts to grow that sector is among the most important. Even more imperative is the work that will go on inside the new facility, as dedicated researchers and scientists advance efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine and help rid the world of the HIV epidemic."
"With 7,500 people around the globe becoming newly infected with HIV every day, it's clear that current prevention and treatment efforts, while critical, are not going to end the AIDS pandemic," said IAVI President and CEO Dr. Seth Berkley. "We need a vaccine to bring an end to AIDS. I am hopeful that scientists at IAVI's Design Lab, working together with partners around the world, will develop a new generation of AIDS vaccine candidates that will bring us closer to our goal of a world without AIDS."
The City provided $12 million for the construction of the Design Lab, which is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center. The State is providing $48 million for the development of the science center at Brooklyn Army Terminal.
"Bioscience is an important and growing sector in New York City's economy," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "Two major centers for commercial laboratory space, totaling more than one-and-a-half million square feet, are currently under construction in the City. We are excited that IAVI, as the first occupant of the new bioscience center at Brooklyn Army Terminal, will be working to help solve one of the greatest public health challenges we face today, both globally and right here in our backyard."
"We are delighted to be part of this effort to incubate, retain, and enhance bioscience, life science, and biotech companies in New York City," said Senator Golden. "The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative is a jewel in our City, State and private partnership development of the Brooklyn Army Terminal as a site for the creation of an entire industry in New York City. In the current economic climate, this investment is of the utmost importance."
IAVI created the new laboratory to bridge the translational gap that exists between the basic research that is conducted in academic and government settings and the late-stage product development that occurs within the pharmaceutical industry. While academic researchers are in an ideal position to generate original vaccine concepts, they typically do not have the resources to translate these discoveries into actual vaccine candidates. The pharmaceutical industry has the resources, but often lacks the profit incentive to invest in AIDS vaccine development given that the scientific challenges are great and that the market for an AIDS vaccine is mostly in the developing world.
"Thanks to advances in medical research, people with HIV are living longer, healthier lives," said Health Commissioner Dr. Frieden. "Despite these tremendous accomplishments, nearly 5,000 New Yorkers are estimated to become infected with this virus each year. I commend the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative for their work and dedication to end to this epidemic, and look forward to a day where we can live in a world free from HIV."
"We were pleased to welcome IAVI to our biotech incubator space in Brooklyn as IAVI's academic partner," said SUNY Downstate Medical Center President Dr. John C. LaRosa. "We are delighted to see IAVI now move into the Brooklyn Army Terminal as we develop substantial additional space for biotech, working with the Economic Development Corporation."
"Collaboration is essential to driving scientific innovation," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the early supporters of IAVI. "Collaborative efforts like the Design Lab promise to accelerate progress toward an HIV vaccine, our best long-term hope for controlling the global AIDS epidemic."
New York City has incomparable resources that make it the ideal location for bioscience and life science business including access to the largest concentration of academic medical institutions, a metro area having the largest concentration of bioscience employees in the county, two bioscience incubator facilities, proximity to business leaders, an investment community that includes more than 100 venture capital firms investing in healthcare and now, a network of state-of-the-art facilities to accommodate commercial bioscience businesses and related research activities. Last year, the City and Alexandria Real Estate broke ground on the 1.1 million-square-foot East River Science Park, one of the most significant capital investments made in the bioscience and healthcare industries in decades. The City is also a partner in the New York City Bioscience Initiative, a public-private partnership including New York City Economic Development Corporation and Partnership for New York City. For more information about the New York City Bioscience Initiative, visit www.nycbiotech.org.
"IAVI's decision to locate the Design Lab in Brooklyn reinforces the unique concentration of clinical, research and commercial biotech functions that have established New York City as a world leader in life sciences and public health," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.
An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV around the world today, a number equivalent to the populations of New York, Delhi, Lagos and London combined. AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death in the world and is number one in sub-Saharan Africa. A vaccine, even a partially-effective one, remains the world's best hope of turning the tide on the pandemic.
IAVI is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Founded in 1996 and operational in 24 countries, IAVI and its network of collaborators research and develop vaccine candidates.
Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958
Rachel Steinhardt (IAVI) (646) 578-1672
David Lombino/Libby Langsdorf (Economic Development Corporation) (212) 312-3523
Jessica Scaperotti (Health and Mental Hygiene)
Ron Namjan (SUNY Downstate) (718) 270-2696