WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced at the beginning of the month that retired Maj. Gen. Philip K. Russell, M.D., the founding president of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute will join the department as a special advisor on vaccine development and production. Russell is an expert on virology who was Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command.
Russell joined the newly created Office of Public Health Preparedness, which is directed by renowned global immunization program administrator Donald A. Henderson, M.D., and is coordinating a national response to public health emergencies. At the announcement on Nov. 1, Secretary Thompson said, “Since arriving here nine months ago, we have moved aggressively to strengthen the department's bioterrorism preparedness and response. This is part of our ongoing effort to bring in America's most talented experts in bioterrorism as well as strengthen our responsiveness. We're working hard every day to build our capabilities even stronger."
In addition to his role as board member and senior advisor to the chairman of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Dr. Russell is professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Department of International Health. He is the author of over 100 publications on infectious diseases. He is board certified in internal medicine and retired in 1990 from the U.S. Army as Major General after a career in infectious disease research. His military assignments included Director, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and overseas tours in Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam. He received the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Service Medal.
Dr. Russell is Past President of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. He served as Special Adviser to the International Children's Vaccine Initiative and now serves on the board of directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. He is a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program and a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Russell’s appointment as special advisor on vaccine production and development represents the effort by federal health officials to strengthen and align resources and expertise to defend the country against bioterrorism threats. Included in this planning is an initiative to produce adequate smallpox vaccine to immunize the nation, in readiness for such a bioterrorist attack. According to Sabin Vaccine Institute Chairman H.R. Shepherd, “Philip Russell is an outstanding scientist who has been responsible for our success as an Institute. The government couldn’t be better served for the expertise the country needs at this time.”
Dr. Russell shares membership on the Board of the Sabin Vaccine Institute with Heloisa Sabin, the widow of Dr. Sabin; H.R. and Carol Ruth Shepherd; William R. Berkley; Mary Ann Chaffee, legislative director for U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA); Allan L. Goldstein, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University; Nancy Gardner Hargrave; Jane C. I. Hirsh; Lewis A. Miller; Edward S. Neiss, M.D., Ph.D.; Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center; Michael E. Whitham, Esq.; and Lawrence J. Wilker, Ph.D.
The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute’s mission is to prevent disease by stimulating development of new vaccines and increasing immunization rates. Founded in 1993, the Institute is headquartered in New Canaan, Connecticut, and recently opened program offices in Washington, D.C. The Institute pursues Albert Sabin’s vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines. Sabin Institute colloquia bring together leaders of academia, industry, government and philanthropy in a shared quest to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases and to prevent and treat cancer. As an immunization advocate, it helps policy makers shape sound public health policies and informs the public about the importance of vaccinations. The Sabin Institute’s Hookworm Vaccine Initiative is working to develop a vaccine to prevent an infection that afflicts more than twenty percent of the world’s population, a leading cause of malnutrition and stunted development.