SAN FRANCISCO–Vir Biotechnology, Inc. today announced the appointment of Herbert W. “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D., as Executive Vice President of Research and Chief Scientific Officer, effective January 1, 2018. Reporting to CEO George Scangos and joining Vir’s management team, Dr. Virgin will lead the company’s significant and growing internal R&D programs to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases.
Dr. Virgin will join Vir from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, where he has served as the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology & Immunology since 2006. He received A.B., M.D., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and in infectious diseases at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. He performed graduate work with Dr. Emil Unanue and postdoctoral studies with Dr. Bernard Fields. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Microbiology and the National Academy of Sciences. He has served on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science, and is currently on the Editorial Boards of Cell and Cell Host and Microbe.
“Skip is an internationally renowned scientist and leader who has made major contributions to the field of immunology and infectious diseases,” said Dr. Scangos. “His vision and passion for science will be invaluable to Vir as we pursue our mission of transforming the care of people with serious infectious diseases. We are fortunate that he has decided to join us, and on a personal note, I am looking forward to working with Skip and the rest of the management team to bring important new medicines to patients around the world who suffer from serious infectious diseases.”
At Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Virgin’s laboratory has used genetic, structural, computational and sequencing methods to define mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and immunity in vivo, with many studies focusing on mouse models. They have identified the physiologic role and molecular mechanisms of several RNA and DNA virus immune evasion molecules, and studied immune effector mechanisms including ISG15, interferon-γ, interferon-λ, cGAS and autophagy genes. They have discovered major roles for autophagy genes in the regulation of inflammation and immunity. As part of these studies, they developed and applied the concept of host complementation to define the in vivo mechanisms of viral immune evasion genes. Pathogen discovery efforts led to the discovery of the first murine norovirus, the first culture of a norovirus and the demonstration that virus infection can trigger novel disease-like pathologies in mice carrying mutations in human disease-susceptibility genes. Dr. Virgin’s lab has also conducted next-generation sequencing-based studies that have linked the human virome to enteropathy in AIDS, inflammatory bowel diseases, and risk for the development of type 1 diabetes in at-risk children.
Global Impact of Infectious Disease
Chronic and acute infections impact hundreds of millions of people every year. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 260 million people in the world living with hepatitis B infection, with millions of new infections annually. Millions also contract seasonal influenza, resulting in three to five million severe cases and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths globally. In the U.S. alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the number of influenza-related deaths has ranged from 12,000 (2011-2012) to more than 50,000 (2012-2013), and the potential for a pandemic flu outbreak continues to be a priority for the CDC.
Vir integrates diverse innovations in science, technology, and medicine to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases. Vir is taking a multi-program, multi-platform approach to applying these breakthroughs, including the development of treatments that induce protective and therapeutic immune responses. Vir’s scale and scope, together with leading scientific and management expertise, allow it to perform significant internal R&D, in-license or acquire innovative technology platforms and assets, and fund targeted academic research. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with operations in Portland, Oregon, Boston, Massachusetts, and Bellinzona, Switzerland. To learn more, visit www.vir.bio
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