DNDi Welcomes Marcel Tanner As Chair of the Board of Directors Along With New Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee

[ Geneva – July 13,  2007 ]
Along with 3 newly appointed members to its governance structures, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) today announced the appointments of 2 new chairmen – Dr. Marcel Tanner as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors and Dr. Julio Urbina as the new Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).

Dr. Tanner, the Director of the Swiss Tropical Institute (STI) in Basel since 1997, is also a professor of epidemiology and medical parasitology at the University of Basel and has been active in basic and field research for neglected diseases for over 30 years.  Dr. Tanner has been an advisor to the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO’s Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the International Development Research Centre, and has served on various expert panels since 1985. He has been committed in various North-South project partnerships and in several research organisation in Africa such as Ifakara Health Research & Development Center in Tanzania.

“I am excited to take over this leadership position of an organisation which is such a key player in the field of neglected diseases,” said Dr. Tanner. “Having been a project partner of DNDi’s since the early days, I have seen the progress which has been made and look forward to building upon it through creation of new and further strengthening of current partnerships.”

Dr. Urbina, currently a Senior Researcher at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas, IVIC), has been involved in the field of neglected disease research for over 30 years since earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975. Dr. Urbina has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee since DNDi’s inception in 2003.

DNDi’s outgoing chairs – outgoing Board Chair Yves Champey, M.D., a former Senior Vice President of International Drug Development at Rhone Poulenc Rorer, and outgoing SAC Chair Dyann Wirth, Ph.D., Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Diseases and Chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health and Co-Director of the Broad Institute’s Infectious Disease Initiative – have both been active from the very early phase of conceiving and building DNDi and have served in their roles since the start of DNDi and have overseen its growth from a nascent organisation with 3 projects in 2003 to one which has just made its first treatment available and which has the largest pipeline of potential anti-kinetoplastid drugs in history.

Dr. Yves Champey remarked, “There is no doubt in my mind that DNDi will meet its objectives to deliver new, effective, safer, and easier-to-use treatments for patients with the most neglected diseases. It was highly challenging and rewarding to be involved in the early stages of this initiative’s development and to gather critical experts and partners who would enable DNDi to grow into adolescence.  It is with confidence and with a great sense of accomplishment that I turn over the leadership baton to the highly capable Marcel Tanner.”

The Board of Directors has also appointed a new member, Dr. Christophe Fournier of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, as well as re-electing 3 members: Dr. Lalit Kant of the Indian Council for Medical Research, Dr. Davy Koech of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and Dr. Reto Brun of STI.

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The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit drug development initiative established in 2003 by five publicly-funded research organisations – Malaysian Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Indian Council of Medical Research, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Brazil, and the Institut Pasteur – as well as an international humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières. The UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is a permanent observer. With a current portfolio of 22 projects, DNDi aims to develop new, improved, and field-relevant drugs for neglected diseases, such as malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease that afflict the very poor in developing countries. DNDi also raises awareness about the need for greater R&D for neglected diseases and strengthens existing research capacity in disease-endemic countries. For further information, please consult www.dndi.org or contact Ann-Marie Sevcsik on +41 (0)79 814 9147 or amsevcsik@dndi.org.