SAN ANTONIO (April 6, 2020) – Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) is hosting the organization’s first Global Health Virtual Symposium in celebration of the Institute’s 80th anniversary on April 29-30, 2021. Co-founder and Board Chair of Global Health Corps (GHC) Barbara Pierce Bush will kick off the international symposium on April 29 in a fireside chat with Dr. Larry Schlesinger, President & CEO of Texas Biomed. On April 30, Texas Biomed will share a message from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, followed by a conversation with Dr. Isis Kanevsky, Director for Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer and Dr. Deepak Kaushal, Director of Texas Biomed’s Southwest National Primate Research Center.
Science, Global Health and Policy in a Time of Pandemics is the focus of this two-day, free event featuring nearly 50 world experts and thought leaders involved in global health, research, sustainability, business and policy. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg will welcome attendees Day 1 of the event. Sessions will be moderated by industry experts, as well as those who cover science and public policy in the media, including Apoorva Mandavilli, Science and Global Health Reporter for the New York Times, Evan Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of The Texas Tribune and Jason Heid, Senior Editor at Texas Monthly. The Symposium will review the linkages between pandemics, increasing infectious disease threats and sustainable development goals and discuss approaches to meeting the challenges and mitigating the impact of infectious diseases.
Barbara P. Bush leads the GHC, an organization that mobilizes young leaders to address the world’s most pressing health issues. Since 2009, GHC has placed more than 1,000 young leaders on the front lines of health equity in Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia and the United States, developing a cadre of creative, effective, and compassionate change-makers.
“We are excited Mrs. Pierce-Bush has agreed to join us since her initiative in establishing Global Health Corps is the kind of forward-thinking, visionary leadership the world needs to ensure we get ahead of current and future pandemics,” said Dr. Schlesinger. “As a member of the board of directors for Partners in Health and Friends of the Global Fight for AIDS, TB, and Malaria, Mrs. Pierce-Bush has unique perspective on the challenges the world faces in fighting infectious diseases.”
Dr. Schlesinger expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity the symposium brings to connect scientists, philanthropists, global health experts and others. Dr. Schlesinger is an internationally recognized authority in infectious diseases with more than 30 years as a physician-researcher with active research focused on tuberculosis. As President and CEO of Texas Biomed, he has led a transformational process at the Institute, adding new faculty, raising more than $30 million through philanthropic efforts and restructuring business practices that have resulted in a doubling of grants and contracts between 2019 and 2020.
The Symposium comes at a time when citizens across the globe are both hopeful, as millions of people are receiving their vaccines, and nervous with cases of COVID-19 rising in parts of the world. Vaccines were created in record time and with unprecedented global, public-private collaboration. Pfizer was the first to produce a safe, effective vaccine against COVID-19, and Dr. Kanevsky will share that story, including discussion with Dr. Kaushal about the preclinical work done at Texas Biomed.
Isis Kanevsky, Ph.D. leads a team that delivers research model development, immune response, and challenge studies to support vaccine development. With more than 20 years of expertise in basic research and animal models of infectious disease, Dr. Kanevsky has unique insight into the development of vaccines and was one of the lead scientists working alongside Texas Biomed scientists to test the effectiveness and safety of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in pre-clinical nonhuman primate models.
Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D. leads SNPRC, one of seven national primate research centers, focused on providing scientists worldwide with the resources necessary to move research from the lab to the patient. While Dr. Kaushal’s more than 20 years of experience has focused on tuberculosis, he is one of nearly a dozen scientists at Texas Biomed working on studying SARS-CoV-2 and managed Texas Biomed’s role in the pre-clinical testing of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our goal with this entire event is to foster dialogue with key partners, share new information and facilitate greater collaboration and learning across disciplines, sectors, initiatives, and countries,” said Dr. Akudo Anyanwu, Vice President of Development at Texas Biomed. “The program seeks to envision a new, forward-thinking, proactive approach to averting future infectious disease threats and thereby improve global health for the most vulnerable populations.”
Prior to her role at Texas Biomed, Dr. Anyanwu was Dean of Development at Johns Hopkins University. She is a global health expert and social entrepreneur with 17 years of experience in the field of global health and international development. She has served on the boards of Roll Back Malaria, the Global Health Council and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
Nearly 50 participants will speak between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. CDT on April 29 and 30. For a full list of all the speakers and descriptions of the 10 different sessions being hosted throughout the event, visit the Global Health Symposium website at https://www.txbiomed.org/globalhealthsymposium/. Registration is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about the future of infectious disease science, global health and public policy.
This event is free thanks to the generous support of event supporters, including Platform Sponsor Zachry Group, and the Barbara Pierce Bush Keynote Session sponsor The Tobin Endowment.