Seattle | Aug. 1, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Seattle | Aug. 1, 2016 : IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) As part of the prestigious Merck Fellowship for Global Health program, IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) is hosting eight Fellows in Seattle for three months to work on two key IDRI projects: the HIV Cure Initiative and Afrigen Biologics. The Merck Fellows at IDRI come from around the world – the United States, Vietnam, the Philippines and New Zealand – bringing expertise ranging from finance to sales/marketing to regulatory affairs.

The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is a three-month, field-based corporate pro bono program designed to leverage the skills and talents of Merck employees. It connects employees from Merck with nonprofit partner organizations around the world to help make meaningful and systematic improvements in health service delivery for people in the greatest need. This marks the second year in a row that IDRI was selected by Merck as a Fellowship partner.

The Merck Fellows assigned to the HIV Cure Initiative – Farishta Anwar, Cathy Elliott, Marilyn Mainardi and Rose Mariano – will focus on developing and implementing a strategy for awareness and advocacy focused on the need to develop a cure for HIV, as well as a plan for coalescing key stakeholders around the vision of the initiative. IDRI, which partners with organizations around the world to provide adjuvants for HIV vaccine candidates, serves as the fiscal sponsor for the HIV Cure Initiative, a public-private partnership initiative aimed at facilitating collaborative research arrangements and catalyzing R&D funding for the development of a cure for HIV.

Having started my career in development work, being part of the fellowship program feels like going full circle for me. I always make sure that in the work that I do, giving back to the community is imperative – as it humbles me and allows me to go back to my roots,” said Mariano. “Working at IDRI, I hope to be able to bring what I know in advocacy building and stakeholder management to the HIV Cure Initiative, and in turn also give back to Merck and my country, by bringing back what I will learn at the global level to raise the awareness of this cause in the Philippines.”

The primary focus of the Merck Fellows assigned to the Afrigen Biologics program – Kim Fry, Keven Patten, Jacqueline Wan and Robert Zullo – is to gather data through market analytics related to opportunities in Africa and other emerging markets. Afrigen Biologics, a social business founded by IDRI in Cape Town, South Africa, is dedicated to the local development and production of vaccines, vaccine technologies and biologics of critical importance to Africa. The company is initially using IDRI technology to innovate areas of vaccine development for infectious diseases.

“The Merck Sharp and Dohme Richard T. Clark Fellows are excited to partner with IDRI and Afrigen to enhance access to improved healthcare and much needed drug products for Frontier Market countries,” said Patten.  “We are thankful for the opportunity to work with such incredibly talented individuals at IDRI and Afrigen while obtaining a continued rewarding and positive experience.  The mission to transform health care is a noble cause and connects all individuals globally to something bigger.  IDRI and Afrigen are innovative change agents and we are truly humbled and inspired to support their efforts during our humanitarian field assignment.”

“We are honored to receive such important support from Merck through its fellowship program, and look forward to working with our Fellows, who are bringing specific expertise and insight to these two key projects that are important to IDRI’s mission,” said Steve Reed, Ph.D., IDRI Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer.

About IDRI

As a nonprofit global health organization, IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) takes a comprehensive approach to combat infectious diseases, combining the high-quality science of a research organization with the product development capabilities of a biotech company to create new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. IDRI combines passion for improving human health with the understanding that it is not just what our scientists know about disease, but what we do to change its course that will have the greatest impact. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 125 employees headquartered in Seattle with nearly 100 partners/collaborators around the world. For more information, visit


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