OXFORD, England, Aug. 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The UK's first dedicated Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC), is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Matthew Duchars as its new, permanent Chief Executive. Dr Duchars has worked in the biotechnology business for over 30 years and brings a wealth of experience in providing strategic direction and technical leadership, for the development of medical countermeasures.
Announcing the appointment, Sir Mark Walport said: "Dr Duchars will provide strategic leadership for the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre. His expertise and experience will ensure that the centre will get off to a strong start when it opens in 2022. His appointment underlines our commitment to support this vital work in the field of vaccines, which will protect the public and support our burgeoning biotech sector."
Commenting on his new role, Dr Duchars said: "This is a great time to join such an exciting and prestigious venture. We are assembling a team of leading experts in vaccine science and manufacturing, as well as building a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. This will make a real difference as we fight to prevent some of the most dangerous diseases from infecting people, both at home and around the world."
VMIC will be located on the 710-acre Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, one of Europe's leading innovation hubs; co-located alongside the UK's national laboratories and 225 scientific and technology minded organisations. As part of the Harwell HealthTec Cluster, comprising 1,000 people across 40 organisations, VMIC will sit within a well-established and proven life sciences community where it will grow to become a vital component of the UK's national scientific infrastructure - providing strategic vaccine development and manufacturing capability.
The centre will provide facilities and subject matter expertise for rapid, effective and economic development and manufacture of vaccines, by working with vaccine developers, funders and key opinion leaders, with the purpose of stimulating and accelerating early stage clinical development (pre-clinical through to Phase 2). It will also serve as an emergency response capability for the UK government, to produce vaccines against specific threats, such as epidemics, emerging infectious diseases (EID) and deliberate/accidental release of biological agents.
VMIC has been founded by three academic institutions (University of Oxford, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) with support from industrial partners (Merck Sharp and Dohme, Johnson and Johnson, and GE Healthcare). The majority of the funding to establish the Centre is being provided by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge, with additional contributions from collaborators and industrial partners. Design work has begun on the facility and the Centre is expected to be fully operational by 2022.
Angus Horner, Partner and Director at Harwell Campus said: "VMIC will be ideally located within a proven and powerful life sciences community, where advantage is secured via access to an exceptionally skilled talent pool, world renowned expertise and globally important science infrastructure. Harwell's people are hugely excited about VMIC having its new home inside the Harwell HealthTec Cluster which will catalyse even stronger collaboration between VMIC, leading research facilities and industry partners as they generate new vaccines solutions and scale up manufacturing."
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About the VMIC's new Chief Executive
Dr Duchars is is currently the president of Genie BioLogic LLC a company that specializes in providing strategic direction and technical advice for the development of medical countermeasures. He has led the development of multiple biopharmaceutical products from pre-IND laboratory stages through GMP scale up, to their final validation at a commercial operating scale. His experience extends into the development of human clinical and animal model data for the licensure of products, using both conventional and the animal rule path.
VMIC will provide an infrastructure to develop vaccine manufacturing processes at scale, It will also have the potential for additional commercial capability, such as for emergency preparedness, for larger scale manufacturing of vaccines to be funded by industry and the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Centre's main funding comes through a £67 million grant from UK Research and Innovation, as part of the UK government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD). The Centre will be further supported by bioprocessing expertise and training from GE Healthcare.
The UK has over 1,300 companies involved in medicines manufacturing, the direct gross value added (GVA) per UK employee is greater than £150,000, and the sector produced £26 billion in exports in 2015. The challenge should return a value of £1 billion to the UK economy, support high-value, highly skilled manufacturing, and increase productivity.
About Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
With a heritage of 75 years at the forefront of UK innovation and discovery, Harwell Campus continues to drive scientific advancements to the benefit of the UK economy and to improve the human condition, centred around an open innovation community and culture. The contribution that Harwell makes to the UK is significant - leading in research and achieving commercial success in key global markets, including Life Sciences, Space and Energy, underpinned by globally renowned expertise in supercomputing, AI and big data. With 5,500 people employed across 225 public, private, and academic organisations and an estimated GVA of over £1billion, Harwell provides job creation and economic growth that benefits the whole country.
SOURCE Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (VMIC)