Dr. Barney Graham, Sammies 2018 finalist and deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, discusses the work he and his team have done developing a Zika vaccine, and why coordination is important for agencies.
While the fervor over the Zika virus has subsided since 2016’s major outbreak, doctors are still treating cases and researching a vaccine. Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, is leading the development, and is nominated for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for his efforts. As they begin final testing on the vaccine, Graham told Government Matters that the treatment is a group effort, and built upon decades of research. “It is not just me. It is a large group of people. It is an institution, the Vaccine Research Center here at NIH was founded about 18 years ago to develop an HIV vaccine. During that process of trying to solve the HIV vaccine problem, we have learned a lot of things and a lot of new technologies have been developed, a lot of new immunology understanding has been obtained,” said Graham. “Zika is something from the flavivirus family. It’s a group of viruses like Yellow Fever, West Nile, Dengue… we know something about them and there are vaccines for flaviviruses, including [some of] the ones I mentioned.”