Sunday, 23 August 2015


From creating new vaccines/drugs that prevent/treat diseases to addressing key health issues for people in need, Merck is committed to improve health and well being around the world. The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is one such initiative aimed at fulfilling the global health needs of the underserved. Merck employees who participate in the program are called Richard T. Clark Fellows (RTC Fellows) in honour of retired Chairman and CEO Richard T. Clark and his philosophy of "passion, purpose and commitment to corporate responsibility."
Launched in 2012, the program offers Merck employees opportunities to share their skills and expertise with people around the world. As many as 30 Fellows are selected each year; the expertise of the applicants is matched to the needs of the partner organizations. During the three-month assignments, the Fellows are embedded within a non-profit organization in the field.
The Fellowship program represents what is possible in private-public partnerships for global health. One such fellowship program currently undergoing is at MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Labs Pvt. Ltd. – India. The fellowship program which commenced on August 3rd 2015 comprises of a 4 member team from Merck US which includes:

·         Kimberly Bishop
Global Human Health – Tampa, FL, USA
·         Garth Meihoff
Global Human Health – Lake Oswego, OR, USA
·         David Peed
Global Human Health – Charlotte, NC, USA
·         Melissa Wooters
Merck Research Labs – West Point, PA, USA

The fellowship team would be at MSD Trust Hilleman Labs Pvt. Ltd. – India for three months and would be working on various assignments, designated to them prior to their visit. The detailed explanation of their respective projects and their views about the fellowship program is detailed below:

·         Kimberly Bishop
Ms. Kimberly Bishop is working as Retail Pharmacy Representative, Tampa, FL at Merck. She joined Merck in 1999 as Senior Sales Representative and became Retail Pharmacy Representative in August 2013. She is Consummate Sales Professional with 20+ years experience in identifying and capturing market opportunities to accelerate expansion, increase revenues and improve profit

Project: Create a Set of Organizational Guidelines to Present the Case for Vaccine Innovation

Kim’s take on the Fellowship program: “The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is a life-changing experience that goes beyond the scope of any individual assignment. This program allows a mutual opportunity to exist, sharing ideas between cultures and creating innovative product and business solutions for similar national health issues. It is an opportunity to serve others while establishing our presence as healthcare ambassadors. I believe that this is our moral responsibility.”

·         Garth Meihoff
Mr. Garth J. Meihoff is a Senior Account Executive, Merck Vaccines, Portland since 2014. He has 13 years of vaccine and 11 years of pharmaceutical public and private sector sales/marketing experience in broad areas including account management, business strategy and planning, sales management, customer marketing, product and promotion management and field sales.

Project: Conduct a Quantitative Assessment of the Health Impact of IP Vaccines

Garth’s take on the Fellowship program: “Working with underserved populations has always been important to me. I am honoured and excited to represent Merck as an RTC Fellow and grateful for the opportunity to help protect some of the poorest populations against vaccine preventable diseases. In New Delhi, I look forward to working with Hilleman Labs to increase access to life-saving vaccines. I am excited to apply my skills on a global level and gain a broader perspective toward a variety of populations. This life-changing experience will enhance my ability to better serve those in the U.S.”

·         David Peed
Mr. David A. Peed is a Senior Account Executive within US Managed Markets and Policy at Merck. He has 28 years of experience with major job responsibilities. He joined Merck in 1987 as a Professional Hospital Representative. In 1990 he was promoted to various internal positions within Merck administration and marketing including a role as Promotion Manager for Mefoxin in 1992. Mr. Peed was then promoted to Business Manager in Charlotte, NC where he managed a sales team responsible for many key Merck products. In 1997 he moved into the managed markets group at Merck where he was responsible for the Managed Care accounts in North and South Carolina until finally moving to his current position as a Senior Account Manager in Integrated Delivery Systems and Federal Accounts – this position involves formulating and implementing strategic plans for key targeted accounts, leading cross-functional teams to implement the plans, strategy and ensuring profitable access for all Merck products at key integrated health systems.

Project: Business Model Review and Operational Strategy

David’s take on the Fellowship program: “It is truly an honor to work for a company that provides an opportunity to participate in a program like the Merck Fellowship for Global Health that will have an impact on the lives of thousands in developing countries. I am extremely excited to be part of a group that will be working with Hilleman Labs in New Delhi, India, as they continue their work to develop high impact, affordable vaccines for people in developing countries in an innovative and sustainable manner. This program allows me to bridge my professional career with my personal desire to make a positive impact on those around me. I know the Fellowship will stretch me both personally and professionally, and I have no doubt that it will be life-changing.”

·         Melissa Wooter
Ms. Melissa A. BoddickerWooters is Research Microbiologist at Merck & Co., West Point, PA. She joined Merck in October 2002 and has 18 years of rich experience. She is presently working as Lead conducting all molecular cloning work for the Chlamydia program including identifying vaccine candidates, designing cloning approaches, expression evaluation and optimization of protein expression. She is also developing and designing cloning strategies for multiple Chlamydia and GAS vaccine targets.

Project: Conduct Experiments on an ETEC Vaccine

Melissa’s take on the Fellowship program: “I’m very excited to have been selected as an RTC Fellow. I look forward to my assignment at the Hilleman labs in New Delhi, India. I feel privileged to work for a company whose impact is felt globally and for being selected for this unique opportunity. As a Fellow, I will get up each day with the opportunity to contribute to the greater good and common purpose, an expansion of the work I do every day at Merck.  This program will help me to be more connected to the work I’m doing and understand how our work benefits people worldwide.”       

We at Hilleman Labs are overwhelmed with the fellowship visit and wish them all the luck in achieving their project goals and do their part in improving global healthcare and hope each Fellow walks away with something he or she never expected and becomes a richer person for the experience.
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Monday, 17 August 2015

How important is a Hib vaccine for India?

Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

According to TOI, India witnessed more child deaths, than any other country, accounting for a staggering 21% of the global deaths. It is estimated that about 4% of all the under-5 deaths in India is due to Hib disease, a figure exhibiting the importance of a Hib vaccine in India. The fastidious nature of the Hib bacterium and the poor infrastructure in the developing countries like India, makes the diagnosis of the disease extremely difficult.

Hib is a deadly bacterium that causes severe diseases like pneumonia and meningitis, which are the leading causes of child deaths in India, accounting for nearly 21% of the global death figures. Hib capsular polysaccharides (Hib-PRP) are poorly immunogenic in children less than two years of age and require conjugation to a protein carrier. Moreover the Hib conjugate vaccine, which plays a vital role in national immunization programs and also forms a main part of the pentavalent vaccine, is the costliest component.

The new conjugate vaccine developed by Hilleman Laboratories is a more immunogenic preparation of Hib capsular polysaccharide (PRP)–tetanustoxoid (TT) conjugates using optimized PRP chain length and conjugation conditions. This new and unique cost-effective formulation developed by the company will significantly reduce the cost of Hib vaccine, which in turn, will help in reducing the market price of the pentavalent vaccine, thus making it accessible to a larger number of people. This will definitely have a larger economic impact on the public health system and subsequently bring down the expenditure in the system.

Thus introducing a Hib vaccine is of paramount importance for a country like India. It will have a positive impact in reducing child illness and death, as we have seen in the case of the industrialized part of the world where the disease has been virtually wiped out through immunization.

Hib vaccines are currently being used in over 185 countries worldwide, which represent over 95% of WHO member nations. The Hib-pentavalent vaccine is currently available in 18 states across India.
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About Me

Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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