Vaccine development experts to speak at MSU symposium in April

Some of the nation’s most noted experts in vaccine development will speak at Montana State University on April 22-23, when the university hosts the Maurice Hilleman Vaccine Symposium. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend all presentations, including a keynote lecture on the evening of April 22.

At the symposium, internationally recognized experts will give research updates on vaccine work for worldwide problems, such as HIV and Ebola, as well as updates on vaccine efforts of particular relevance to Montana, such as in brucellosis. Research efforts led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Merck & Co., Inc., will also be summarized.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, April 22, with a talk by Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Offit’s talk, “Maurice Hilleman: The Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children,” will be given at the Museum of the Rockies’ Hager Auditorium. The talk will focus on the work of Hilleman, for whom the symposium is named. Hilleman is a 1941 MSU graduate who saved the lives of millions by developing a wide array of vaccines. A Miles City native, Hilleman graduated atop his class at what was then Montana State College with dual degrees in chemistry and microbiology. His name often accompanies those of Jonas Salk and Louis Pasteur as pioneers who fundamentally changed the game in human health. The abstract on a National Institutes of Health obituary for Hilleman, who died in 2005, describes him this way: “Microbe hunter, pioneering virologist, and the world’s leading vaccinologist.”

The symposium will continue Saturday, April 23, with talks given by a number of vaccine researchers and experts. All Saturday presentations will be given in MSU’s Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building and will also be streamed live online. Parking at MSU is free on weekends and after 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Saturday’s schedule is as follows:

8 a.m., Introduction, Mark Jutila, head of the MSU Department of Microbiology and Immunology

8:15 a.m., Vaccine development – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Katey Owen, deputy director, Vaccines Development CMC, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

9 a.m. Vaccine initiatives – Merck & Co., Inc., Barbara Kuter, executive director of pediatric medical affairs, Merck & Co., Inc.

10 a.m., “Exploiting ‘Persistent Virus’ Immunity for Development of an HIV/AIDS Vaccine,” Dr. Louis Picker, professor and head of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology, Oregon Health and Science University

11 a.m., Ebola vaccines, Dr. Heinz Feldmann, chief, Laboratory of Virology and chief, Disease Modeling and Transmission Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

1:30 p.m., “Building a better mouse trap: How classical immunology can promote development of effective vaccines for Francisella tularensis,” Catharine Bosio, chief, Immunity to Pulmonary Pathogens Section, Laboratory of Bacteriology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

2:15 p.m. “Mucosal Vaccination Strategies for Protection to Brucellosis,” David Pascual, professor, University of Florida Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology

3-4 p.m., presentations by MSU researchers.

“With recent outbreaks of diseases preventable by vaccines that have occurred in this country and other countries around the world, a research symposium focused on vaccines, with a general talk focused on the life’s work of Maurice Hilleman, is timely,” said Mark Jutila, head of the MSU Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “Infectious disease research at MSU is one of its core research strengths and continues to grow, with programs of relevance to national priorities and priorities in Montana, as well.”

For more information about the symposium, contact Lisa Leadon, operations director in the MSU Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at 994-2020 or

–MSU News Service