Previous Fora / 2011

KAUFMANN, Stefan H. E.

Director, Department of Immunology, Max-Planck-Institute for Infection Biology

Stefan H.E. Kaufmann

Founding director and director of the Department of Immunology of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. Professor for microbiology and immunology at the Charité, Humboldt University, Berlin, and honorary professor at the University Clinics Benjamin Franklin, Free University, Berlin. Guest Professor, Tongji University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, China, September 2011. Past president and honorary member of the German Society for Immunology. Past President of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS). President of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS). Born 1948 in Ludwigshafen am Rhein. Studied biology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, 1977 PhD (highest degree, summa cum laude). From 1987 to 1991 professor for medical microbiology and immunology, and from 1991 to 1998 full professor for immunology at the University of Ulm. Scientific interests: immunity to bacterial pathogens with emphasis on tuberculosis and rational vaccine design. Co-Developer of a recombinant BCG-vaccine candidate which has passed phase I-clinical trial successfully. Representative of research and technological health institutes as Alternate Board Member of GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation). Initiated the Day of Immunology to raise public awareness in immunology. Numerous scientific awards (e.g. A. Krupp Prize for Young Professors, 1987, Aronson Prize of the state of Berlin 1988, Young Investigator Award (1983) and Investigator Award (1993) of the German Society for Hygiene and Microbiology). Doctor Honoris Causa from Université de la Mediterranée, Aix-Marseille II. Coordinator of several international and interdisciplinary projects including Grand Challenge 6 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 600 publications mostly in high-ranking journals. Highly cited immunologist (ISI Thomson). H-Index (according to J. E. Hirsch): 80. Editor or member of editorial boards of more than 20 international scientific journals. Member of numerous professional societies and academies, e. g. American Academy of Microbiology, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Sciences ‘Leopoldina’ and World Innovation Foundation.



17:00-19:00 17 NOV THEMATIC SESSION I.
Leopoldina: „Emerging and re-emerging infections”

Tuberculosis: a re-emerging, still neglected disease
We have developed a new vaccine against tuberculosis (TB), which has proven highly effective and safe in preclinical studies and is currently being assessed in clinical trials. Also our team, together with numerous partners in Africa, is attempting to identify biomarkers of TB. Why are we interested in an infectious disease which is largely ignored because it has been with us forever? TB together with HIV/AIDS belongs to the deadliest of threats. Two billion individuals are infected with the etiologic agent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb); every year, we witness approx. 10 million new cases of active TB, of which one-quarter are fatal. Even though we have drugs to treat TB, numbers of multidrug-resistant infections are on the rise. Today 50 million people live with multidrug-resistant Mtb. Another such complication is the dangerous liaison between HIV/AIDS and TB. A vaccine is available: bacilli Calmette-Guérin (BCG). This vaccine, however, is ineffective against the most prevalent form, pulmonary TB in adults. We therefore need new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for TB. Clinical trials for vaccines against TB are tedious, long-term endeavours. One possibility of accelerating these efforts is offered by biomarkers, which predict the clinical endpoint of a vaccine trial, i.e., outbreak of active TB or its prevention. Such biomarkers could also form the basis for diagnostics that can distinguish latent infection from active TB and predict risk of infected individuals to develop active disease.  A first generation of better drugs, vaccines and diagnostics could reduce TB incidence up to 70%. To ensure success, however, financial support needs to be strengthened. Currently, approx. 500 million USD are spent on R&D in TB every year. However, annually at least 2 billion USD are needed to reach the ambitious goal of eliminating TB by the year 2050. Financially this could be profitable because TB currently requires expenditure of up to 20 billion USD annually.