PI’s Perspective: An Introduction to the Duke Vaccine Manufacturing and Toxicology Core

We interviewed the Principal Investigators responsible for leading each of the CIVICs Centers as part of a two-part interview series. Previously, we learned about the Principal Investigator at the Duke Vaccine Manufacturing and Toxicology Core, Dr. Tom Denny. This article provides an introduction to the Duke Vaccine Manufacturing and Toxicology Core from the perspective of Dr. Tom Denny.

If you had to make an elevator pitch for CIVICs, what would you say?

CIVICs is an outstanding program comprised of academic, government, and industry researchers that work together to solve one of society’s biggest problems – eliminating influenza pandemics. The cooperation and partnership with the CIVICs scientists make success more likely.

Tell me the origin story of your Center.

We were fortunate and lucky. Dr. Tony Moody, Dr. Chip Walter and I each applied for a different arm: vaccine research platform, clinical, and vaccine manufacturing respectively. All three of our proposals were awarded and furthered our commitment to influenza vaccine research by creating integrated centers to work on each of these projects.

What is CIVICs?

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases created the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers program.
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Explain the scientific aims of your Center to me, but pretend I’m a high schooler.

Our Core works on taking influenza vaccines and research that has already been discovered in labs, and exploring the feasibility of vaccines in humans. Not all lab discoveries that look promising in the lab translate to useful human vaccines.

Tell me about an exciting recent discovery from your CIVICs Center.

A major focus of our Core is to streamline the development time for vaccine products by limiting how much we relay on outside entities. One of our most recent accomplishments was bringing fill finishing in-house. Fill finishing includes filling vaccine vials in a sterile way, labeling, and quality inspection prior to being sent to the FDA for approval. Bringing fill finishing to the Core is an example of how we act as an ‘accelerator’ which we strive for, allowing us to bring together different techniques and processes to get vaccines to the public faster by minimizing outside resources.

If you had to recommend another person from your Center for me to interview, who would it be, and why?

I recommend interviewing Amy Caparoni. Amy is the Director of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) operations for the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) and runs our manufacturing team. As the Director, she is on the floor when a product is being made and makes sure that all the different parts of the team during a vaccine campaign runs smoothly and 100% in accordance with our remanufacturing description.

Duke Vaccine Manufacturing and Toxicology Core