Vanderbilt’s Crowe receives the Building the Foundation Award from Research!AmericaOct. 6, 2022, 4:13 PM
by Bill Snyder
James Crowe Jr., MD, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has received the Building the Foundation Award from Research!America, a national biomedical research advocacy organization, for his team’s role in developing human monoclonal antibodies and vaccine candidates against COVID-19.
The award, which was announced Oct. 6, recognizes individuals whose basic research discoveries have played a pivotal role in advancing public health. It is one of four awards for Outstanding Achievement in Public Health supported by Johnson & Johnson.
Crowe and other recipients of Research!America Advocacy Awards will be honored in March during the organization’s 27th annual Advocacy Awards program in Washington, D.C. The awards recognize individuals and organizations whose leadership efforts have advanced the nation’s commitment to medical, health and scientific research.
“We are proud to recognize all of our outstanding 2023 honorees,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America in a news release. “Each honoree, in different ways, has accelerated the pace of research progress, strengthened the research enterprise, and increased public and policymaker engagement in medical and health research.”
“Our team is honored to be recognized by Research!America for our work on medical countermeasures for infectious diseases,” said Crowe, the Ann Scott Carell Professor and professor of Pediatrics and of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. “We are also grateful for all of the support we have received for these basic science studies that also allowed us to translate the findings into drug development efforts.”
During the past 25 years, Crowe and his colleagues have pioneered techniques for isolating human “monoclonal” antibodies that can neutralize — with laser-like focus — a host of pathogenic viruses including Zika, HIV, influenza, Ebola, Marburg and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Weeks after the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States in March 2020, Crowe, Robert Carnahan, PhD, and their team developed an ultra-fast rapid antibody discovery platform that enabled them to isolate hundreds of monoclonal antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
In June 2020, six of the COVID-19 antibodies isolated at VUMC were licensed to the global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for optimization and advancement into clinical development. In January 2021, the company announced it was advancing a combination of two long-acting antibodies, called Evusheld, into phase 3 clinical trials.
Based on positive results from the trials, in December 2021 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Evusheld as a pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years and older with compromised immune systems or a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Evusheld also has been approved for both prevention and as a COVID-19 treatment in Japan and Europe.
The VUMC research was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund at Vanderbilt.