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Our bottom line: lives saved.
Helping the lives of people with the greatest need...
...by combining breakthrough science and cutting-edge product development.

Mission

THE POTENTIAL OF TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE

The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute is a non-profit biotech organization. Our mission is to develop products to fight malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases—three major causes of mortality, poverty, and inequality in developing countries. The world has unprecedented scientific tools at its disposal; now is the time to use them to save the lives of the world's poorest people.
Our focus is translational medicine: advancing novel drug and vaccine candidates from the laboratory to human studies. Funneling many possible ideas into a few viable solutions is the most challenging stage of the research and development process, but we embrace this challenge. We learn continuously from everything we do. If one or two or 100 ideas don't turn into solutions today, they yield insights that help us succeed tomorrow.

Leadership

Our Explorers

We bring interdisciplinary experience to the pursuit of saving lives.

Penny M. Heaton, M.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Inspires and enables the organization to achieve its global mission

My role is to set the vision for the Gates MRI and inspire the organization to achieve it. I am responsible for mission clarity, steering our strategy in the right direction, and ensuring there are sufficient resources to reach our goals.

I am at the Institute because I fervervently believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live a productive life. My passion for infectious diseases is life-long, stemming from my father’s near-death from tuberculosis. The results of a surveillance study I conducted in western Kenya further ignited this passion; there I witnessed firsthand the high mortality from diarrheal and respiratory diseases that can occur in a setting with limited healthcare resources. These experiences drove me to a career in the private sector, where I spent nearly fifteen years developing vaccines against diseases such as rotavirus, a diarrheal disease that once claimed the lives of half a million infants and young children annually. The impact of rotavirus vaccines globally has been nothing short of phenomenal, projected to save 1.7 million lives over the next 10 years. I want to see that same extraordinary outcome for other infectious diseases. Although technically more difficult, why can’t we find solutions for tuberculosis, malaria, and other enteric diseases?

Every day I think what an incredible privilege it is to lead an organization whose sole reason for existing is to use cutting-edge technology and science to find solutions for these diseases, and make them accessible to all.

Expertise Building and leading teams and organizations, leading strategy development and execution.

Integrated product development, clinical trials, vaccinology, infectious diseases, global health.

Credentials Director, Vaccines Development,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Global Head, Clinical Research Clusters,
Novartis

Chief Medical Officer & VP, Development
Novavax

Senior Director, Vaccines Clinical Research
Merck & Co.

Mary Thistle

Agility Leader

Drives collective effectiveness of the Gates MRI leadership team

In my role as Agility Leader and as the thought partner to the Gates MRI leadership team, I am accountable for the leadership team's collective effectiveness. We have no time to lose in our relentless pursuit of finding solutions for diseases that cause five deaths every minute. This creates urgency to accelerate the leadership team’s performance in driving innovation, applying rigor, and enabling strong collaborations, both within the Institute and throughout our network of global partners.

From my diversified executive leadership experience at rapidly growing biotech companies, I bring a resilient yet agile mindset that is required for successful, highly complex, and dynamic environments. Negotiating multiple strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations has taught me the importance of having strategic clarity, decision-making frameworks, and clear understanding of key stakeholder motivations. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to bring these skills, honed over 25 years, to help the team achieve our vision for global health. Our success will be built on the courage to ignite change and our ability to fully leverage the breadth of diversity and talent in our diverse team.

The vulnerable populations from around the globe are my North Star.

Expertise Driving accelerated growth, and leading organizational strategy, operations, and business development.

Credentials Chief Operating Officer,
Dimension Therapeutics

Senior Vice President, Business Development,
Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Board of Directors, Enterome Biosciences

Board Member & Audit Committee Chair,
Homology Medicines

David Kaufman, M.D. Ph.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Facilitates innovative approaches to translational medicine

Two pursuits inspire me: making transformational medicines and vaccines for urgent global health challenges, and harnessing deep knowledge of human biology to drive nimble drug and vaccine development. At the Gates MRI, I am privileged to be able to combine these twin passions. As the tools at scientists' disposal become increasingly powerful, there is an urgent need to apply them with the right technical and analytical rigor to accelerate product development. It takes a closely integrated team with broad clinical, regulatory, quantitative, technical and operational expertise-like the one we are assembling at the Gates MRI-to get it right. I am thrilled to be part of this effort!

I come to the Institute with a background that spans academia, industry and the nonprofit sector. Most recently, I led translational research for a major industry immuno-oncology effort—an endeavor that underscored the power of translational science to transform drug discovery and development. Having worked end-to-end from discovery through registrational clinical trials, I am acutely aware of the need for robust partnerships at every stage to successfully bring lifesaving medicines and vaccines to patients. I am eager to collaborate broadly to have impact well beyond the walls of the Gates MRI.

Expertise

Immunology and molecular virology

Preclinical, translational and clinical vaccine and biologics development

Translational medicine and biomarkers

Credentials Head, Translational Oncology,
Merck

Executive Director, Oncology,
Merck

Director, Vaccines,
Merck

Instructor in Medicine,
Harvard Medical School

Jared Silverman, Ph.D.

Discovery Leader

Drives the progress of drug and vaccine discovery

My team's role is pretty straightforward: work closely with our partners around the globe to ensure that a steady stream of exciting assets are ready to move into clinical development to treat the most serious diseases and help the neediest patients.

I accidently ended up in the Chlamydia laboratory at the University of Texas the summer I was 15, and I was immediately hooked on microbiology and research. I'm lucky to have found my passion early and to have been able to pursue it throughout my career. My time at Cubist gave me the opportunity to do everything from target selection to meeting with physicians to talk about our drugs; most importantly, it gave me the chance to meet people whose lives had been saved by our antibiotics. There is no greater reward for a scientist than to know that their work has changed lives, and it is the desire to do this on a global scale that drew me to the Gates MRI, and inspires me every day.

I get up in the morning, and go to bed each night, asking questions.

Expertise Drug Discovery

Microbiology

Antibiotic mechanism of action and mechanism of resistance

Microbiome

Credentials SVP, Research,
Kaleido Biosciences

Vice President, Biology,
Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Editor,
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

Board of Directors,
Auspherix

Dina Berdieva, MPH

Project Management & Clinical Operations Leader

Leads strategic program management and execution of clinical studies

My team is the operational engine that will bring life-saving solutions to diseases that impact the most vulnerable. Our goal is to execute studies with rigor, precision, and compassion, honoring the trust each participant has given us with their consent. We plan every program in detail from beginning to end and develop not only a Plan B but also a Plan C and D. Inevitably, things happen and if we are not ready with mitigation strategies it is the patients who are most negatively impacted.

My background spans contract research organizations, major pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies over 18 years. In my career, I have been fortunate to have held a variety of different roles, all of which culminated into this amazing opportunity with the Gates MRI.

Having grown up in Asia and Africa I developed a keen interest in global public health as a teenager. I feel honored to be part of this dedicated team and have no doubt we will solve these complex problems by collaborating with other equally passionate people and organizations. Together, we will surely achieve our goals.

Expertise Upholding international standards, with patients in mind, while executing complex trials designs

Credentials Executive Director, Clinical Operations,
Boston Pharmaceuticals

Head, Development Operations & Governance,
Novartis Vaccines

Head, Central Clinical Trial Operations,
Novartis Vaccines

Debra Weiss, RN, MSN

Quality Leader

Enables a quality culture of continuous inspection readiness

In my role as Quality Leader at the Gates MRI, I am responsible for enabling and sustaining a culture built on quality principles. I am committed to protecting the safety and rights of investigational study participants, quality in investigational product development and manufacturing, and compliance with all applicable laws, regulatory requirements and guidance ensuring data integrity in study conduct. As a registered nurse by training, I believe that everyone has the right to have access to treatments that will either treat their condition or cure them. In our discovery of these treatments we must take caution in continuing to protect the rights of those participating in our clinical trials, especially those in the vulnerable populations.

My diverse background over 25 years ranges from conducting clinical trials in an academic environment to working in large and small pharmaceutical companies, where I travelled worldwide auditing clinical trial activities and leading global QA organizations. I know the importance of partnering with others to ensure a clear understanding of good pharmaceutical practices and how to implement them across regions to ensure success. As a leader, inspiring teams to deliver their best every day is equally critical to success.

I am truly honored to be part of the Institute's commitment to quality in the service of saving lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Expertise Leading QA strategy and execution to compliantly achieve business objectives

Credentials Group VP, R&D Quality Assurance,
Shire Pharmaceuticals

QA Professional at Merck & Co., Inc

Adjunct Professor,
GCP Temple University

John Boama-Sefah, MBA

Culture Leader

Nurtures culture and shapes elements essential to business success

Working at the epicenter of the Gates MRI, I am responsible for nurturing our culture and shaping the elements essential to achieve business success. I believe an intentional culture built around sense of purpose and values-based decisions is the basis for the extraordinary effort needed to achieve great things. Keeping the heart of the organization’s greatest asset – its people and leadership – energizes me every day.

Having supported many countries as a Human Resources Partner for several decades, I bring valuable expertise in building communities of innovation, with the empowerment and expectations on role model behavior necessary for grassroots employee engagement and experience.

The Institute's courageous and urgent vision for saving lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people touches me deeply. As a survivor of some of the diseases plaguing sub-Saharan Africa during my childhood in Ghana, my decision to be part of the Institute’s journey is a conscious and emotional one.

I wake each day eager to be part of once-in-a lifetime history!

Expertise Leading HR strategy and implementation across multiple geographies and during significant times of change and transformation

Credentials Vice President, Human Resources,
Baxalta

Senior Director, Human Resources,
Sanofi

Sally Jennings, Barrister; LL.M (Lon)

Compliance & Risk Management Leader

Solution oriented business enabler

Without the generosity and foresight of human beings willing to participate in medical research and development, there could be no effective human drug or vaccine development. Protecting the rights and wellbeing of human research participants, particularly vulnerable subject populations, is paramount. This fundamental premise underpins my approach to helping the Gates MRI develop innovations to address the challenges presented by diseases that target the poorest and, ultimately, to save lives.

With over 22 years' experience of working as a lawyer in the global drug research and development field, in my role heading up compliance and legal risk management, I am responsible for assisting the organization to navigate the complex legal and regulatory pathways associated with human subject research; thereby ensuring that our clinical studies are conducted with the utmost integrity and safeguards.

I am energized and honored by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to play a vital role in the development of potential solutions to overcome some of the most challenging diseases known to man.

Expertise Global drug and vaccine research and development law.

Credentials Vice President, Legal Vaccines R&D and Risk Management,
GSK

Vice President Global Head Legal, Product Development, Quality and Strategy,
Novartis

Barrister

LL.M (Lon.)

Jeff Barrett, Ph.D.

Quantitative Sciences Leader

Facilitates decision-making to improve probability of success

In my role as Quantitative Sciences Leader for Gates MRI, I facilitate decision making via a rigorous process of assumption testing, model building, and scenario evaluation via simulation, to ensure that our teams and partners understand sensitivities to design criteria, patient selection and other factors that may influence research and development outcomes. In the spirit of efficiency and recognizing the millions of patients suffering every day, we attempt to "get it right the first time" or learn from our mistakes when we don't.

From my research experience in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry, I bring a comprehensive quantitative skillset that has evolved and continues to do so to meet the complexities of the disease areas we’re attempting to improve. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to utilize these skills to help our teams advance the science that defines current and future global health research. Our metrics for success will be built on the habit of challenging present-day research paradigms and promoting a more efficient and prioritized approach for the advancement of new drug and vaccine development.

Expertise Implementing a model-based approach to inform vaccine and drug development approaches to improve Global Health

Credentials Professor,
Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania

Director, Laboratory for Applied PK/PD,
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Vice President, Translational Informatics,
Sanofi Pharmaceuticals

Jorg Thommes, Ph.D.

Drug Supply Leader

Makes innovative medicines accessible and affordable to all

Pharmaceutical supply chains are unique among industries, because failure to deliver medicines when and where they’re needed means not just disappointment but suffering. At Gates MRI our urgency is especially acute, because we are serving the poorest and most vulnerable.

While scientific innovation is the basis of our work, in the end we must provide a tangible product in the form of a pill, a vial, a syringe, maybe an autoinjector. The Drug Supply team is focused on effectively translating the science into physical drugs, vaccines, and monoclonal antibodies and finding ways to guarantee affordable access for everyone. Innovation in our manufacturing methods and supply chain is a must, because access and affordability are so critical. I've spent my career in pharmaceutical operations, both in academia and industry, thinking about cost and efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturing. While pharmaceutical operations has been a major driver of value in our industry over the past decades, I firmly believe that with the patients we seek to serve, efficiency and cost of drug supply has a level of criticality that is very much different from what I’ve seen before.

We cannot pursue innovative medicine that is not accessible to all the people we strive to serve. I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet this challenge head on.

Expertise Process and analytical development, pharmaceutical manufacturing, engineering

Credentials Senior Vice President,
Pharmaceutical Sciences & Technology, Visterra

Senior Vice President Engineering & Technology,
Biogen

Habilitation "Technische Biochemie," University of Dusseldorf, Germany

Helen M. Boudreau

Chief Operating Officer

Supports and enables achievement of our mission

As Chief Operating Officer, I lead business operations and ensure effective resource management at Gates MRI. Working alongside a fantastic team of cross-functional leaders, I am inspired by the mission and committed to exemplifying our values. Together we are creating an environment at the institute that enables every team member and collaborator to give their best every day.

I come from a family of public servants, and it’s always been important for me to find ways to have a positive impact. For the past 20 years, I have been a finance, strategy, and operational leader at biotech and global pharmaceutical companies. I’ve been privileged to support and enable the work of thousands of scientists, clinicians, and R&D professionals working tirelessly on hundreds of projects to save and enhance people’s lives. I’m humbled by the opportunity to contribute to building an organization dedicated to creating new therapies for devastating diseases that disproportionately impact people—particularly children—in lower income countries.

The goal of saving lives in the most disadvantaged populations, of giving children a chance to grow up and individuals a chance to live full lives, is incredibly motivating to me every day.

Expertise Leading Finance, Strategy, IT, Strategic Sourcing, Process Improvement, Facility Operations, and Portfolio Management to drive alignment and achieve business objectives

Credentials Chief Financial Officer,
Proteostasis Therapeutics

Chief Financial Officer,
Forma Therapeutics

Chief Financial Officer,
Novartis US

Global Chief Financial Officer
Novartis Oncology

Vice President, Finance
Pfizer

Taryn Rogalski-Salter, Ph.D.

Regulatory Affairs Leader

Designs global regulatory strategy to accelerate product development

As Regulatory Affairs Leader, I interpret laws, regulations, policies, and guidance, and then incorporate these tools into an innovative global regulatory strategy that supports accelerated product development. Others may not consider Regulatory Affairs a cutting edge discipline, but I do! This is my life’s work and I am honored to represent the medicinal products we are developing to health authorities worldwide. Working transparently with regulators, understanding their perspectives, and incorporating their guidance advances timely development of medicines and vaccines. The outcome is faster delivery of safe and effective medicines to those who most need them.

I have been directly involved in the global licensure of over 10 new vaccines, which collectively have had a positive effect on a phenomenal number of lives. My 25 year career spans roles in manufacturing, analytical development, global regulatory policy, and regulatory affairs. I’ve learned the importance of working as a team, appreciating others’ perspectives, and also challenging the status quo. I am excited to work with my colleagues at Gates MRI, to build for the future and to improve the lives of those we are here to help.

We know the need is great and that people around the world are waiting. They can count on us!

Expertise Global regulatory strategy and policy Vaccinology Inter-company trade organization leadership Building effective teams

Credentials Head, Regulatory Affairs Vaccines Takeda Vaccines, Inc.

Global Head, Regulatory Affairs Novartis Vaccines, Inc.

Global Head, Regulatory CMC Novartis Pharmaceuticals

Director, Global Regulatory Policy Merck & Co., Inc.

Penny M. Heaton, M.D.
Mary Thistle
David Kaufman, M.D. Ph.D.
Jared Silverman, Ph.D.
Dina Berdieva, MPH
Debra Weiss, RN, MSN
John Boama-Sefah, MBA
Sally Jennings, Barrister; LL.M (Lon)
Jeff Barrett, Ph.D.
Jorg Thommes, Ph.D.
Helen M. Boudreau
Taryn Rogalski-Salter, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

Penny M. Heaton, M.D.

Inspires and enables the organization to achieve its global mission

My role is to set the vision for the Gates MRI and inspire the organization to achieve it. I am responsible for mission clarity, steering our strategy in the right direction, and ensuring there are sufficient resources to reach our goals.

I am at the Institute because I fervervently believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live a productive life. My passion for infectious diseases is life-long, stemming from my father’s near-death from tuberculosis. The results of a surveillance study I conducted in western Kenya further ignited this passion; there I witnessed firsthand the high mortality from diarrheal and respiratory diseases that can occur in a setting with limited healthcare resources. These experiences drove me to a career in the private sector, where I spent nearly fifteen years developing vaccines against diseases such as rotavirus, a diarrheal disease that once claimed the lives of half a million infants and young children annually. The impact of rotavirus vaccines globally has been nothing short of phenomenal, projected to save 1.7 million lives over the next 10 years. I want to see that same extraordinary outcome for other infectious diseases. Although technically more difficult, why can’t we find solutions for tuberculosis, malaria, and other enteric diseases?

Every day I think what an incredible privilege it is to lead an organization whose sole reason for existing is to use cutting-edge technology and science to find solutions for these diseases, and make them accessible to all.

Expertise Building and leading teams and organizations, leading strategy development and execution.

Integrated product development, clinical trials, vaccinology, infectious diseases, global health.

Credentials Director, Vaccines Development,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Global Head, Clinical Research Clusters,
Novartis

Chief Medical Officer & VP, Development
Novavax

Senior Director, Vaccines Clinical Research
Merck & Co.

Close

Agility Leader

Mary Thistle

Drives collective effectiveness of the Gates MRI leadership team

In my role as Agility Leader and as the thought partner to the Gates MRI leadership team, I am accountable for the leadership team's collective effectiveness. We have no time to lose in our relentless pursuit of finding solutions for diseases that cause five deaths every minute. This creates urgency to accelerate the leadership team’s performance in driving innovation, applying rigor, and enabling strong collaborations, both within the Institute and throughout our network of global partners.

From my diversified executive leadership experience at rapidly growing biotech companies, I bring a resilient yet agile mindset that is required for successful, highly complex, and dynamic environments. Negotiating multiple strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations has taught me the importance of having strategic clarity, decision-making frameworks, and clear understanding of key stakeholder motivations. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to bring these skills, honed over 25 years, to help the team achieve our vision for global health. Our success will be built on the courage to ignite change and our ability to fully leverage the breadth of diversity and talent in our diverse team.

The vulnerable populations from around the globe are my North Star.

Expertise Driving accelerated growth, and leading organizational strategy, operations, and business development.

Credentials Chief Operating Officer,
Dimension Therapeutics

Senior Vice President, Business Development,
Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Board of Directors, Enterome Biosciences

Board Member & Audit Committee Chair,
Homology Medicines

Close

Chief Medical Officer

David Kaufman, M.D. Ph.D.

Facilitates innovative approaches to translational medicine

Two pursuits inspire me: making transformational medicines and vaccines for urgent global health challenges, and harnessing deep knowledge of human biology to drive nimble drug and vaccine development. At the Gates MRI, I am privileged to be able to combine these twin passions. As the tools at scientists' disposal become increasingly powerful, there is an urgent need to apply them with the right technical and analytical rigor to accelerate product development. It takes a closely integrated team with broad clinical, regulatory, quantitative, technical and operational expertise-like the one we are assembling at the Gates MRI-to get it right. I am thrilled to be part of this effort!

I come to the Institute with a background that spans academia, industry and the nonprofit sector. Most recently, I led translational research for a major industry immuno-oncology effort—an endeavor that underscored the power of translational science to transform drug discovery and development. Having worked end-to-end from discovery through registrational clinical trials, I am acutely aware of the need for robust partnerships at every stage to successfully bring lifesaving medicines and vaccines to patients. I am eager to collaborate broadly to have impact well beyond the walls of the Gates MRI.

Expertise

Immunology and molecular virology

Preclinical, translational and clinical vaccine and biologics development

Translational medicine and biomarkers

Credentials Head, Translational Oncology,
Merck

Executive Director, Oncology,
Merck

Director, Vaccines,
Merck

Instructor in Medicine,
Harvard Medical School

Close

Discovery Leader

Jared Silverman, Ph.D.

Drives the progress of drug and vaccine discovery

My team's role is pretty straightforward: work closely with our partners around the globe to ensure that a steady stream of exciting assets are ready to move into clinical development to treat the most serious diseases and help the neediest patients.

I accidently ended up in the Chlamydia laboratory at the University of Texas the summer I was 15, and I was immediately hooked on microbiology and research. I'm lucky to have found my passion early and to have been able to pursue it throughout my career. My time at Cubist gave me the opportunity to do everything from target selection to meeting with physicians to talk about our drugs; most importantly, it gave me the chance to meet people whose lives had been saved by our antibiotics. There is no greater reward for a scientist than to know that their work has changed lives, and it is the desire to do this on a global scale that drew me to the Gates MRI, and inspires me every day.

I get up in the morning, and go to bed each night, asking questions.

Expertise Drug Discovery

Microbiology

Antibiotic mechanism of action and mechanism of resistance

Microbiome

Credentials SVP, Research,
Kaleido Biosciences

Vice President, Biology,
Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Editor,
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

Board of Directors,
Auspherix

Close

Project Management & Clinical Operations Leader

Dina Berdieva, MPH

Leads strategic program management and execution of clinical studies

My team is the operational engine that will bring life-saving solutions to diseases that impact the most vulnerable. Our goal is to execute studies with rigor, precision, and compassion, honoring the trust each participant has given us with their consent. We plan every program in detail from beginning to end and develop not only a Plan B but also a Plan C and D. Inevitably, things happen and if we are not ready with mitigation strategies it is the patients who are most negatively impacted.

My background spans contract research organizations, major pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies over 18 years. In my career, I have been fortunate to have held a variety of different roles, all of which culminated into this amazing opportunity with the Gates MRI.

Having grown up in Asia and Africa I developed a keen interest in global public health as a teenager. I feel honored to be part of this dedicated team and have no doubt we will solve these complex problems by collaborating with other equally passionate people and organizations. Together, we will surely achieve our goals.

Expertise Upholding international standards, with patients in mind, while executing complex trials designs

Credentials Executive Director, Clinical Operations,
Boston Pharmaceuticals

Head, Development Operations & Governance,
Novartis Vaccines

Head, Central Clinical Trial Operations,
Novartis Vaccines

Close

Quality Leader

Debra Weiss, RN, MSN

Enables a quality culture of continuous inspection readiness

In my role as Quality Leader at the Gates MRI, I am responsible for enabling and sustaining a culture built on quality principles. I am committed to protecting the safety and rights of investigational study participants, quality in investigational product development and manufacturing, and compliance with all applicable laws, regulatory requirements and guidance ensuring data integrity in study conduct. As a registered nurse by training, I believe that everyone has the right to have access to treatments that will either treat their condition or cure them. In our discovery of these treatments we must take caution in continuing to protect the rights of those participating in our clinical trials, especially those in the vulnerable populations.

My diverse background over 25 years ranges from conducting clinical trials in an academic environment to working in large and small pharmaceutical companies, where I travelled worldwide auditing clinical trial activities and leading global QA organizations. I know the importance of partnering with others to ensure a clear understanding of good pharmaceutical practices and how to implement them across regions to ensure success. As a leader, inspiring teams to deliver their best every day is equally critical to success.

I am truly honored to be part of the Institute's commitment to quality in the service of saving lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Expertise Leading QA strategy and execution to compliantly achieve business objectives

Credentials Group VP, R&D Quality Assurance,
Shire Pharmaceuticals

QA Professional at Merck & Co., Inc

Adjunct Professor,
GCP Temple University

Close

Culture Leader

John Boama-Sefah, MBA

Nurtures culture and shapes elements essential to business success

Working at the epicenter of the Gates MRI, I am responsible for nurturing our culture and shaping the elements essential to achieve business success. I believe an intentional culture built around sense of purpose and values-based decisions is the basis for the extraordinary effort needed to achieve great things. Keeping the heart of the organization’s greatest asset – its people and leadership – energizes me every day.

Having supported many countries as a Human Resources Partner for several decades, I bring valuable expertise in building communities of innovation, with the empowerment and expectations on role model behavior necessary for grassroots employee engagement and experience.

The Institute's courageous and urgent vision for saving lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people touches me deeply. As a survivor of some of the diseases plaguing sub-Saharan Africa during my childhood in Ghana, my decision to be part of the Institute’s journey is a conscious and emotional one.

I wake each day eager to be part of once-in-a lifetime history!

Expertise Leading HR strategy and implementation across multiple geographies and during significant times of change and transformation

Credentials Vice President, Human Resources,
Baxalta

Senior Director, Human Resources,
Sanofi

Close

Compliance & Risk Management Leader

Sally Jennings, Barrister; LL.M (Lon)

Solution oriented business enabler

Without the generosity and foresight of human beings willing to participate in medical research and development, there could be no effective human drug or vaccine development. Protecting the rights and wellbeing of human research participants, particularly vulnerable subject populations, is paramount. This fundamental premise underpins my approach to helping the Gates MRI develop innovations to address the challenges presented by diseases that target the poorest and, ultimately, to save lives.

With over 22 years' experience of working as a lawyer in the global drug research and development field, in my role heading up compliance and legal risk management, I am responsible for assisting the organization to navigate the complex legal and regulatory pathways associated with human subject research; thereby ensuring that our clinical studies are conducted with the utmost integrity and safeguards.

I am energized and honored by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to play a vital role in the development of potential solutions to overcome some of the most challenging diseases known to man.

Expertise Global drug and vaccine research and development law.

Credentials Vice President, Legal Vaccines R&D and Risk Management,
GSK

Vice President Global Head Legal, Product Development, Quality and Strategy,
Novartis

Barrister

LL.M (Lon.)

Close

Quantitative Sciences Leader

Jeff Barrett, Ph.D.

Facilitates decision-making to improve probability of success

In my role as Quantitative Sciences Leader for Gates MRI, I facilitate decision making via a rigorous process of assumption testing, model building, and scenario evaluation via simulation, to ensure that our teams and partners understand sensitivities to design criteria, patient selection and other factors that may influence research and development outcomes. In the spirit of efficiency and recognizing the millions of patients suffering every day, we attempt to "get it right the first time" or learn from our mistakes when we don't.

From my research experience in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry, I bring a comprehensive quantitative skillset that has evolved and continues to do so to meet the complexities of the disease areas we’re attempting to improve. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to utilize these skills to help our teams advance the science that defines current and future global health research. Our metrics for success will be built on the habit of challenging present-day research paradigms and promoting a more efficient and prioritized approach for the advancement of new drug and vaccine development.

Expertise Implementing a model-based approach to inform vaccine and drug development approaches to improve Global Health

Credentials Professor,
Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania

Director, Laboratory for Applied PK/PD,
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Vice President, Translational Informatics,
Sanofi Pharmaceuticals

Close

Drug Supply Leader

Jorg Thommes, Ph.D.

Makes innovative medicines accessible and affordable to all

Pharmaceutical supply chains are unique among industries, because failure to deliver medicines when and where they’re needed means not just disappointment but suffering. At Gates MRI our urgency is especially acute, because we are serving the poorest and most vulnerable.

While scientific innovation is the basis of our work, in the end we must provide a tangible product in the form of a pill, a vial, a syringe, maybe an autoinjector. The Drug Supply team is focused on effectively translating the science into physical drugs, vaccines, and monoclonal antibodies and finding ways to guarantee affordable access for everyone. Innovation in our manufacturing methods and supply chain is a must, because access and affordability are so critical. I've spent my career in pharmaceutical operations, both in academia and industry, thinking about cost and efficiency of pharmaceutical manufacturing. While pharmaceutical operations has been a major driver of value in our industry over the past decades, I firmly believe that with the patients we seek to serve, efficiency and cost of drug supply has a level of criticality that is very much different from what I’ve seen before.

We cannot pursue innovative medicine that is not accessible to all the people we strive to serve. I can’t tell you how excited I am to meet this challenge head on.

Expertise Process and analytical development, pharmaceutical manufacturing, engineering

Credentials Senior Vice President,
Pharmaceutical Sciences & Technology, Visterra

Senior Vice President Engineering & Technology,
Biogen

Habilitation "Technische Biochemie," University of Dusseldorf, Germany

Close

Chief Operating Officer

Helen M. Boudreau

Supports and enables achievement of our mission

As Chief Operating Officer, I lead business operations and ensure effective resource management at Gates MRI. Working alongside a fantastic team of cross-functional leaders, I am inspired by the mission and committed to exemplifying our values. Together we are creating an environment at the institute that enables every team member and collaborator to give their best every day.

I come from a family of public servants, and it’s always been important for me to find ways to have a positive impact. For the past 20 years, I have been a finance, strategy, and operational leader at biotech and global pharmaceutical companies. I’ve been privileged to support and enable the work of thousands of scientists, clinicians, and R&D professionals working tirelessly on hundreds of projects to save and enhance people’s lives. I’m humbled by the opportunity to contribute to building an organization dedicated to creating new therapies for devastating diseases that disproportionately impact people—particularly children—in lower income countries.

The goal of saving lives in the most disadvantaged populations, of giving children a chance to grow up and individuals a chance to live full lives, is incredibly motivating to me every day.

Expertise Leading Finance, Strategy, IT, Strategic Sourcing, Process Improvement, Facility Operations, and Portfolio Management to drive alignment and achieve business objectives

Credentials Chief Financial Officer,
Proteostasis Therapeutics

Chief Financial Officer,
Forma Therapeutics

Chief Financial Officer,
Novartis US

Global Chief Financial Officer
Novartis Oncology

Vice President, Finance
Pfizer

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Regulatory Affairs Leader

Taryn Rogalski-Salter, Ph.D.

Designs global regulatory strategy to accelerate product development

As Regulatory Affairs Leader, I interpret laws, regulations, policies, and guidance, and then incorporate these tools into an innovative global regulatory strategy that supports accelerated product development. Others may not consider Regulatory Affairs a cutting edge discipline, but I do! This is my life’s work and I am honored to represent the medicinal products we are developing to health authorities worldwide. Working transparently with regulators, understanding their perspectives, and incorporating their guidance advances timely development of medicines and vaccines. The outcome is faster delivery of safe and effective medicines to those who most need them.

I have been directly involved in the global licensure of over 10 new vaccines, which collectively have had a positive effect on a phenomenal number of lives. My 25 year career spans roles in manufacturing, analytical development, global regulatory policy, and regulatory affairs. I’ve learned the importance of working as a team, appreciating others’ perspectives, and also challenging the status quo. I am excited to work with my colleagues at Gates MRI, to build for the future and to improve the lives of those we are here to help.

We know the need is great and that people around the world are waiting. They can count on us!

Expertise Global regulatory strategy and policy Vaccinology
Inter-company trade organization leadership
Building effective teams

Credentials Head, Regulatory Affairs Vaccines Takeda Vaccines, Inc.

Global Head, Regulatory Affairs Novartis Vaccines, Inc.

Global Head, Regulatory CMC Novartis Pharmaceuticals

Director, Global Regulatory Policy Merck & Co., Inc.

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Approach

How We Work

Scientific discovery followed by product development and delivery is one formula for saving lives. It has turned HIV from a death sentence into a disease people can live with. It turned smallpox into a disease no one has to live with.

Right now, scientists know more about human biology than they ever have before. They have the computing power to simulate complex biological processes, and to do it incredibly quickly. The universe of the possible keeps expanding.

However, the necessary funding, tools and commitment have only rarely been brought together to serve the needs of the world’s poorest people. It’s time to use the latest innovations to improve all lives. We will combine advances in biomarker profiling of the immune system and infectious organisms and bioassays, quantitative sciences and statistical computing, and expertise in chemistry and manufacturing to move potential solutions from the laboratory into human trials.

We are part of a large community with shared goals, and we know we will reach those goals faster together. We rely on academic researchers, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and global health organizations as partners in our work. We will share what we learn with our partners to accelerate the cycle of innovation.

Research

Priorities

  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrheal Disease
Eradicate malaria

Malaria may have killed half the people who have ever lived1. Every year, it kills almost 500,000 people and makes more than 200 million sick. As we drive toward zero deaths and zero cases, we will need a next-generation vaccine and drugs that combat resistance. See diagram attributions.

Accelerate the end of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is currently the leading cause of death from infectious disease2. The treatment regimen we use today is long and complicated, and hundreds of thousands of cases are resistant to the standard drugs. To control the disease, we need a shorter, simpler course of treatment that works for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB. Eventually, we need an effective vaccine. See diagram attributions.

End diarrheal deaths

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children3. Virtually all those deaths occur in low-income countries. A recently developed vaccine for rotavirus, once the leading cause of diarrhea, has started to reduce mortality. Now, we need to tackle diarrhea's many other causes. See diagram attributions.

Malaria, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis kill five people every minute.4

We believe we can help end this crisis.

Our bottom line is lives saved.

Gates MRI

FAQ

What is the relationship between the Gates MRI and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?

  • The Gates MRI is subsidiary of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded by a grant from the foundation.
  • The Gates MRI is aligned with the vision of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and guided by the belief that all lives have equal value.
Where is the Gates MRI located?

The Gates MRI is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Where can I find more information or inquire about job opportunities?

Further information about job opportunities and other updates about the Gates MRI can be found on the organization's LinkedIn page.

How large is the Gates MRI? How many employees does Gates MRI have?

The Gates MRI plans on operating as a fully integrated, non-profit biotech organization staffed appropriately to advance a pipeline of programs in the prioritized disease areas from pre-clinical testing through human proof of concept studies. We expect we will scale up to 80 to 120 full-time employees over the next several years.

Does the Gates MRI provide research grants?

No, the Gates MRI is a non-profit biotech organization focused on accelerating product development for diseases that affect the world’s poorest populations. We do not anticipate making grants at this time.

What is the distinction between the Gates MRI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)?

CEPI is focused on accelerating the development of vaccines for emerging infectious diseases. The Gates MRI will focus on developing interventions to fight persistent epidemics, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and enteric and diarrheal diseases.

Do you have a pool of product candidates to research? What is the Gates MRI pipeline of programs?

The team at Gates MRI is currently evaluating a number of products under development with foundation partners. Once this analysis is completed, we will share the pipeline.

How will the Gates MRI share its findings?

The Gates MRI will adhere to the foundation’s global access and open access policies.

  • Global Access, a core value of the foundation, rests on two principles: (a) prompt and broad dissemination of knowledge and information; and (b) access to products at an affordable price to people most in need. Gates MRI will manage our research activities in accordance with Global Access to ensure impact for its intended beneficiaries.
  • Open Access enables unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research that has been funded by the foundation, including underlying data sets, and removes the publisher pay wall for access to this information.
What research and development partnerships will the Gates MRI pursue?

Focused on serving as a convener and connector in the research and development community, the Gates MRI will collaborate with foundation product development partners, academia, pharmaceutical & biotech companies, Low/Middle Income Country (L/MIC) manufacturers and non-profit organizations on upstream and downstream activities. We will establish partnerships that leverage assets, capabilities and expertise in order to accelerate product development for our disease areas of interest.

Will the Gates MRI only take product development to phase 2? Assuming a viable candidate is developed, how will the Gates MRI identify partners to bring products through to commercialization?

The Gates MRI will focus on translational product development, (defined as preclinical candidate selection to human/clinical proof of concept in the target population). Once a candidate has achieved human proof of concept, the plan is to partner the program with an organization that has late-stage development and commercial expertise. Late-stage development partners may include non-profit product development partners, Low/Middle Income Country (L/MIC) manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.

How will the Gates MRI ensure that products developed by the organization will be made available to the world's poorest populations at an acceptable volume and affordable price?

The Gates MRI will adhere to the foundation's Global Access policy. Organizations that partner with the foundation agree to Global Access, which requires that the knowledge and information gained from a funded project will be promptly and broadly disseminated, and that funded developments will be made available and accessible at an affordable price to people in need within developing countries.

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REFERENCES
1. Whitfield J. Portrait of a serial killer. Nature. 2002. doi:10.1038/news021001-6.
2. Global Health Observatory (GHO) data: Tuberculosis (TB). World Health Organization Web site. http://www.who.int/gho/tb/en/. Accessed May, 2018.
3. Global Diarrhea Burden. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html. Updated December 17, 2015. Accessed May, 2018.
4. WHO Diarrhoeal disease fact sheet, updated May 2017; WHO Malaria Policy and Advisory Committee Meeting Report 2018; WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2017.
* This is an estimation based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Health Observatory (GHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention