Our Mission and History
Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases was started in 2004 to develop vaccines and other products to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in developing countries.
Our founders had previously worked together at VaxGen. Dr. Donald Francis had a long career in public health before co-founding VaxGen and serving as its president. He had seen the power of vaccines first hand during the smallpox eradication program. Carter Lee had been CFO of VaxGen, and he understands the complex business challenges (and costs) of developing vaccines. Dr. Phil Berman had been the head of research at VaxGen. His long history as a biotech veteran helped illuminate the potential of applying biotechnology to the development of new vaccines.
While they were at VaxGen, our three founders had overseen the development of two HIV vaccine candidates, AIDSVAX®B/B and AIDSVAX®B/E. They had taken the products from Dr. Berman’s lab at Genentech through development, culminating in the completion of the world’s first Phase III HIV vaccine clinical trials. Over 7,900 volunteers participated in the trials in North America, The Netherlands, and in Thailand. After the trial results showed no efficacy and VaxGen shifted its strategic direction, our founders decided to focus their private sector skills on developing products for use in the developing world.
With our expertise in public health, we believe strongly that vaccines represent the best tools for controlling infectious diseases. The generally low costs of vaccines also make them a prime tool for controlling infections in the developing world, where they are most needed. Effective diagnostics allow health care providers to accurately diagnose and properly treat their patients at the point of care, and reporting those results can inform accurate and timely disease surveillance efforts..
As former private sector biotechnology executives, we understand the long and complex process of developing new products. Together, our team has taken many products out of the lab, into pre-clinical studies, through all phases of clinical trials, and onto production.
Unfortunately, the market for vaccines and diagnostics in developing countries is not seen as attractive for most for-profit pharmaceutical companies. The combination of high development costs, long timelines, and the uncertainty of success drive many companies away.
In their absence, we saw an opportunity, and we created Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases: a non-profit organization capable of bringing product development expertise to focus on the diseases of the developing world.
Based in South San Francisco, California, we are able to draw on the expertise and talent that are drawn to the “Birthplace of Biotechnology” and the Silicon Valley area. We have put together an experienced team of professionals, with combined decades of vaccine and product development experience. We understand the high risk nature of the development process, and our team works diligently to manage every step effectively and efficiently.
Today, GSID is active in a number of ongoing projects. Continuing on the work begun at VaxGen, the development of an HIV vaccine has remained a primary goal for GSID. We have been working with the blood specimens and clinical data collected during previous AIDSVAX trials, while also collaborating on new clinical trials. Beyond vaccines, we have been developing a mobile health solution to improve disease surveillance from the point of care. As always, we continue to work with private companies, foundations, and other organizations that are drawn together by a common interest to develop new products for developing countries. Please see Our Programs for more about our current and past projects.
In 2006, our co-founder Dr. Phil Berman left to become Professor and chair of the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has continued to work with GSID on one of our HIV vaccine projects.
Looking back, we are especially grateful to the Conant Foundation and to Until There’s a Cure. During our start-up phase, both of these organizations provided general financial support critical to our formation. We cannot do enough to thank them for their support.
One day, our success may be measured in the number of lives saved and the number of infections averted. Until then, we will strive to develop and deliver affordable health solutions to prevent and diagnose infectious diseases, especially for those in the developing world.