SLU’s Hoft Is Named to National Vaccine Advisory Committee
Saint Louis University researcher Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., has been named to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. Hoft, who is professor of internal medicine and director of the division of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at SLU and is a SLUCare physician, was named a voting member of the group on June 8 and attended his first virtual meeting on June 9.
Hoft’s term runs through 2024.
The National Vaccine Program is part of the Office of Infectious Disease Policy and HIV/AIDS (OIDP), which is part of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
National Vaccine Advisory Committee members provide peer review, consultation, advice, and recommendations to the Assistant Secretary for Health, in the Secretary’s capacity as the Director of the National Vaccine Program, on matters related to the Program’s responsibilities.
Responsibilities of the National Vaccine Program include:
- Vaccine research
- Vaccine development
- Safety and efficacy testing of vaccines
- Licensing of vaccine manufacturers
- Production and procurement of vaccines
- Distribution and use of vaccines
- Necessity and effectiveness of vaccines
- Adverse events related to vaccines and immunization activities
Individuals selected for appointment to the NVAC serve as voting members. The NVAC consists of 17 voting members: 15 public members, including the Chair, and two representative members.
“I consider it a great honor and responsibility to be appointed to this important committee,” Hoft said. “I will do my best to recommend and advocate for new areas relevant for vaccine development and delivery.”
Hoft is the director of the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development, which has received significant NIH funding through contracts and awards, including a Vaccine & Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU). Hoft serves as the Principal Investigator for the VTEU, which is one of only nine federally-funded VTEUs. SLU is on the front lines in the fight against pandemics and global health crises.
As a VTEU, SLU conducts Phase 1 through 4 vaccine and treatment trials, including clinical studies in collaboration with partners from industry.
Hoft’s research has studied whether mucosal vaccinations and booster vaccinations enhance immunity induced by conventional vaccination. He was the first to demonstrate that human γ9δ2 T cells develop protective memory responses after vaccination, a paradigm shift that provides an important new approach for tuberculosis vaccine development.
Hoft has advanced the understanding of Trypanosoma cruzi, the infection that causes Chagas disease, a leading cause of infectious heart disease in Latin America for which no vaccines exist. His lab developed vaccines that are protective in mouse models of T. cruzi infection. He identified specific CD4 epitopes that are presented by a large proportion of the population as promising candidates for vaccine development.
Hoft’s work has also advanced influenza vaccine development. Influenza vaccines must be reformulated every year because of viral antigenic drift. Hoft has identified T cell epitopes that are highly conserved between different influenza strains, work that suggests that vaccines protective against diverse influenza strains may be within reach.
“I will apply my 30 years of experience conducting pre-clinical and clinical vaccine development work to optimally support NVAC’s multiple missions,” Hoft said.
SLU researchers have extensive experience developing vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases and have been on the forefront of protecting the public from bioterrorism and other emergent threats, including pandemic influenza, smallpox, tularemia, anthrax and plague. SLU’s work has supported the development and licensure of multiple vaccines that currently are in clinical use.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.