Today is a notable day for IVAC. We have transitioned from the leadership of Dr. Orin Levine, the founding director, who led the Center through its growth from a single project to a diverse portfolio of projects encompassing numerous vaccine access issues. We are beginning a new IVAC chapter, and I am proud to take the reins as Acting Director while the planning for a permanent Director progresses. Although this role for me at IVAC is new, the institution itself is not. My experience at IVAC includes the stages of visioning what we wanted the Center to be, choosing its name, developing our space from a concrete cavern to a place of warm collaboration, and growing its projects and staff.
IVAC is defined by its people and its partners. You are a dynamic, innovative, and dedicated group, focused on “moving the needle” toward improvements in child health and survival. Our long-term partners – organizations such as the GAVI Alliance, the Gates Foundation, CDC, PATH, Sabin Vaccine Institute, International Vaccine Institute, and fellow academic institutions and research centers around the world – have been central to the successes of IVACs work that aims to expand vaccine access to children in the places where it is most needed. We will continue to extend our efforts across disciplines and partners, guided by the mission of full vaccine access against leading causes of mortality and morbidity like pneumococcus, Hib, rotavirus, dengue, malaria and influenza.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead IVAC, an organization that will continue delivering the highest quality and impactful work it is known for. My aim in this next chapter of IVAC is to foster an environment where great work can continue to drive vaccine access, achieving milestones beyond what we believed possible at the beginning of IVAC. Working to collaborate with new partners, strengthen existing collaborations and providing our staff with the means to create and innovate, the work we do will remain firmly grounded in principles of excellence, objectivity, data driven decision making and advocacy using fresh, often unconventional, approaches.
I look forward to working with all of you in my new capacity, and eagerly welcome the discussions, directions and deliberations we are sure to have on the way to accelerating use of life-saving vaccines around the world.
Kate O’Brien, MD, MPH is Acting Director of IVAC. A pediatric infectious disease physician, epidemiologist and vaccinologist, she previously served as Deputy Director of IVAC. She also serves as Associate Director of the Center for American Indian Health.