WASHINGTON, April 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) today announced the appointment of Michael W. Kempner as chairman of the board and Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D as president and CEO. Sabin, a leading non-profit global health research institute and advocacy organization, also announced that it would focus the organization's mission on "diseases of poverty" as a global health priority.

For fourteen years, Sabin has been the standard bearer for parasitology research and advocacy and researching and developing vaccines for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The institute is developing the world's first hookworm vaccine, which is now undergoing clinical testing in Brazil, and will soon initiate development of additional vaccines for other NTDs. Furthermore, Sabin continues to lead the work of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control (GNNTDC). GNNTDC is a new partnership of leading global health organizations created to facilitate the control and elimination of NTDs in developing countries via a "rapid-impact" drug package - a combination of safe, effective and low cost drugs.

Michael W. Kempner Named Chairman of the Board

"Last year I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Hotez speak at the Clinton Global Initiative conference and was extraordinarily moved by his mission and that of Sabin," said Kempner. "I quickly recognized the critical nature of the problem and the need to dedicate resources and mobilize the international community to treat and eliminate NTDs."

"Too few people realize that diseases of poverty, many of which are currently treatable, afflict one billion people, more than the total number of people with HIV/AIDS and malaria combined, yet receive a fraction of the funding and support," Kempner continued. "These diseases not only kill more than 500,000 people each year, but for the one billion who live daily with NTDs, they remain shackled to poverty. I am honored to help lead this organization as it broadens its mission to all diseases of poverty, building on its long history, as well as the initial success of its vaccine development programs and GNNTDC."

Kempner succeeds Sabin founder H.R. Shepherd, D.Sc., who will be honored for his efforts with the title Founding Chairman.

"I would also like to thank Dr. Shepherd and Dr. de Quadros for their incredible dedication and work in building Sabin into one of the world's premier global health organizations. Starting with an idea and incredible perseverance, Dr. Shepherd literally built Sabin from the ground up. I appreciate his support and confidence as we build the next generation of Sabin," added Kempner.

Kempner is the founder and CEO of MWW Group, a top ten national public relations agency and is a noted expert on change management, leadership transition, branding and public policy development. He is currently leading MWW Group's corporate philanthropy efforts, including its $1 million commitment through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to provide public relations services to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems in global poverty, health and climate change. As part of this commitment, MWW Group became affiliated with Sabin and is managing public relations activities for GNNTDC. In addition to MWW Group, Kempner is CEO of Financial Relations Board, one of the country's leading investor relations firms. He is also founder and CEO of StoneAmerica Licensing, one of the nation's premier licensing and sponsorship companies.

Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. Named President and CEO

Dr. Hotez, who had previously served as Chair of Sabin's Scientific Advisory Council, succeeds Ciro de Quadros, M.D., who served as Sabin's interim president since 2005. Hotez is widely recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on NTDs. As the founder of the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative (HHVI), Dr. Hotez and his team have created a new model for neglected disease vaccine development in the non-profit sector engaging middle income developing countries as partners. De Quadros will continue to serve as the Institute's Director of International Programs.

"We have a unique opportunity to exponentially improve the lives of billions of people trapped by diseases of poverty," said Dr. Hotez. "Using the success of our Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative, we have developed a unique and successful model for neglected disease vaccine control that we can replicate to help prevent those diseases that impact the poorest of our world's population."

"It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Shepherd and Dr. de Quadros and to have an opportunity to build upon the success andcontributions that both men have made in establishing Sabin as a world-class scientific center and leader in critical global health issues," added Hotez.

In addition to his new role as president and CEO of Sabin, Hotez will remain in his position as the Walter G. Ross Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University. He also serves as Director of GNNTDC and Director of HHVI. Hotez is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Tropical Neglected Diseases and has been honored with numerous health awards, including the Bailey K. Ashford Medal from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2003) and the Leverhulme Medal from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (2006). He is also an Ambassador of the Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP). Hotez has authored more than 200 articles and books, including technical papers and editorials in the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Science, PLoS Medicine, Washington Post and Foreign Policy. He is a native of Hartford, Connecticut and obtained his B.A. from Yale University, his M.D. and Ph.D. from Weil Cornell University Medical College and the Rockefeller University, respectively, and his pediatric and pediatric infectious diseases training from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Yale University School of Medicine.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

NTDs are poverty-perpetuating, disabling and disfiguring parasitic and bacterial infections that afflict one billion people. They are the most common infections of the poorest of the poor who live on less than $2 per day. NTDs contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty, stigmatization, disability, disfigurement and death, leaving millions unable to work or participate in family or community life. Despite their pervasiveness, NTDs are often overshadowed in terms of visibility and resource commitment by the "big three" -- HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative (HHVI)

Sabin is the home of HHVI, an internationally-recognized product development partnership, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for the research and development, testing and distribution of the world's first recombinant protein vaccine for human hookworm infection.

Vaccine Advocacy

Sabin will also continue to lead programs to promote the use of widely available vaccines to control and eliminate a number of diseases of poverty that are plaguing developing countries. These programs include Rotavirus Vaccine Advocacy; P.A.C.E. -- Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV); and a partnership with Pan American Health Organization to conduct advocacy contributing to elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in the Americas.

Cancer Vaccine Consortium

The consortium was developed by Sabin to address the networking, clinical and regulatory needs of corporations, organizations and researchers working on cancer vaccines. The goal of the consortium is to accelerate the process of bringing cancer vaccines from the development stage to the clinic.

About The Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based 501c(3) non-profit medical research and advocacy organization dedicated to infectious and tropical disease control. The Institute was founded in 1993 to honor the legacy of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, one of America's greatest scientists. Since 2000, the Institute has become increasingly focused on sponsoring and conducting research and development for vaccines to prevent Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), a group of disabling and poverty-promoting conditions in developing countries, such as human hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, and onchocerciasis. Sabin has gained international recognition for its commitment to combat these diseases of poverty through the use of vaccines as well as preventive chemotherapy.

Sabin currently pursues an agenda that encompasses scientific research, policy and advocacy, and maintains programs in vaccine safety and an innovative Cancer Vaccine Consortium. Many of these activities are conducted in collaboration with its academic partner, The George Washington University. Please visit www.sabin.org for additional information.