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NIAID Boosts Vaccine Innovation but Draws Controversy
Vaccine start-up companies hoping for funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH, www.nih.gov) may want to keep on the “nice” list of Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). As reported earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 6, p.1), the director is granting $500–600 million per year to companies that can deliver on promising developments in novel vaccines.
The article reports that Fauci “draws on the vast scientific expertise within NIH to come up with products and companies worthy of funding,” with the goal of preparing companies ready to bid on contracts under the BioShield program, currently run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The article also points out, however, that Fauci often grants funds to rival companies, including grants to both Sanofi-Aventis and Chiron for the development of a treatment against the H5N1 (avian flu) virus, thereby “pitting them against each other for federal contracts.”