Hermann Bujard was one of the founders of TET Systems and Sumaya Biotech. He was an academic to the core with strong roots to Heidelberg – the University and EMBO – as well as to other academic institutions all over the world. Still, early in his career, he changed sides to industry and accepted a position as Director of Molecular Biological Research at Hoffmann-La Roche – only to move back again after three years.
His pioneering work on transcriptional control in bacteria and phages, which he started very early in his career, ultimately lead to the discovery of the Tet technology for gene control in mammals. He recognized its potential as a tool in basic and applied research and pursued its patent protection. This eventually cleared the way for the foundation of TET Systems. Hermann Bujard was very convinced that industry also has a social responsibility. He himself used his revenues from TET Systems to fund his research on MSP-1, a Malaria vaccine candidate, a passion since his days at Hoffmann-La Roche. Last year he was delighted to witness the successful completion of the first-in-human clinical trial with MSP-1. Sumaya Biotech which he cofounded, will further pursue the development of this vaccine candidate.
Hermann Bujard was much more than a teacher and scientist and we all owe him a lot. He was instrumental in shaping the ZMBH (Zentrum für Molekulare Biologie der Universität Heidelberg) with flat hierarchies and a departmental structure, unusual and a nuisance for some at the time. Together with a local colleague he worked hard that EMBL/EMBO was established in Heidelberg. Both achievements proved quintessential for Heidelberg‘s standing as an international molecular biology hub. He was tremendously supportive of young scientists not only in his own group or the ZMBH but at other institutions, such as the Center for Infectious Research, University of Würzburg or the Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center in Turkey.
Beyond his merits in science, university policy and as an entrepreneur, Hermann Bujard will be remembered as a person who fought passionately for his goals and did not shy away from unpopular decisions. But he deeply enjoyed gathering friends and colleagues at his home where long (political) discussions where held over wine and good food and where he and his wife Regine entertained their guests with insights, tales and anecdotes of their lifes.
We will miss him dearly!
npj Vaccines volume 5, Article number: 10 (2020)
Immunization with full-length Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 is safe and elicits functional cytophilic antibodies in a randomized first-in-human trial.
A vaccine remains a priority in the global fight against malaria. Here, we report on a single-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo and adjuvant-controlled, dose escalation phase 1a safety and immunogenicity clinical trial of full-length Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) in combination with GLA-SE adjuvant. Thirty-two healthy volunteers were vaccinated at least three times with MSP1 plus adjuvant, adjuvant alone, or placebo (24:4:4) to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity. MSP1 was safe, well tolerated and immunogenic, with all vaccinees sero-converting independent of the dose. The MSP1-specific IgG and IgM titers persisted above levels found in malaria semi-immune humans for at least 6 months after the last immunization. The antibodies were variant- and strain-transcending and stimulated respiratory activity in granulocytes. Furthermore, full-length MSP1 induced memory T-cells. Our findings encourage challenge studies as the next step to evaluate the efficacy of full-length MSP1 as a vaccine candidate against falciparum malaria (EudraCT 2016-002463-33).
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