Dr Rino Rappuoli
VP Vaccines Research & Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Rappuoli is Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of
the biotech company Chiron. As such, his mandate involves overseeing
the review of key research and development programs across Chiron's
three global business units. He is credited with co-founding the
field of “cellular microbiology”, a discipline which
combines cell biology and microbiology, and has pioneered the genomic
approach to vaccine development called “reverse vaccinology”.
Born in Siena, Italy in 1952, Rino Rappuoli studied biological
sciences at the University of Siena before becoming staff scientist
at the Siena Sclavo Research Center. He then crossed the Atlantic
to carry out research work at Rockefeller University and the Harvard
Medical School, where he worked on the molecular biology of bacteriophages.
In 1983 he returned to his roots and was made responsible for the
Vaccines Division of the prestigious European vaccine company Sclavo.
By 1988 Dr. Rappuoli was head of the Sclavo Division of Vaccine
Research and Development.
Dr. Rappuoli joined Chiron as Head of European Research in 1992
when Chiron acquired Sclavo. In 1996 he was made Vice President
Vaccines Research of Chiron Corporation in Emeryville, USA, and
in 2005 he was promoted to Chief Scientific Officer.
Dr. Rappuoli has accumulated awards throughout his career such
as the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (1991), the Mangia
d'Oro (1995) and the Dr. Friedrich Sasse Award (1998).
In 2005 Dr. Rappuoli was delighted to receive the “Medaglia
d'Oro al Merito della Sanit‚ Pubblica” from the President
of the Italian Republic. This prestigious prize ‚ awarded
annually since 1946 to Italian scientists and institutions involved
in the improvement of global health - was conferred to Dr. Rappuoli
in recognition of his studies on a vaccine against a future pandemic
influenza, and especially for the results of his research on a vaccine
based on an H9N2 strain of avian influenza virus.
Later the same year, he was elected to the prestigious U.S. National
Academy of Sciences, which is considered one of the oldest and most
authoritative American scientific societies as a result of its strategic
role in supporting the formulation of research in the field of human
He sits on a number of boards, such as the European Molecular Biology
Organization (EMBO) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM),
and is co-Chairman of the R&D Task Force of the Global Alliance
for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). He has published 321 original
papers and written 60 reviews and 39 book chapters.
Chiron ‚ and Dr. Rappuoli in particular ‚ has been
involved in pandemic preparedness activities for many years, including
the production and clinical testing of potential pandemic vaccines.
In October 2005, Chiron won a $62.5 million contract to provide
the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
with a stockpile of H5N1 vaccine. The vaccine, which will contain
Chiron's unique MF59 adjuvant, is based on an inactivated influenza
strain similar to the H5N1 avian subtype that has circulated throughout
Southeast Asia and, more recently, in Central Asia and parts of
A number of clinical studies show that adding the MF59 adjuvant
to avian influenza vaccines may provide broader protection and enhance
the immune response to the vaccine. These clinical studies show
that MF59-adjuvanted vaccine induces antibody levels believed to
be protective with less than a third of the vaccine dose used against
a single strain of seasonal influenza and that it therefore helps
capacity “stretching” as part of pandemic preparedness.
Chiron is also a leader in the development of influenza vaccine
manufacturing using cell culture, an important advance for both
seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine supply. With the final phase
of testing underway in Europe and clinical studies ongoing in the
United States, Chiron is pioneering this next-generation approach,
which eliminates the dependence on chicken eggs for production,
enabling flexible and faster start-up of vaccine production.
A fervent believer in cross-cultural and trans-national collaboration,
Dr. Rappuoli fully endorses the EU's research into avian flu. Chiron
Vaccines is preparing a project to participate as coordinator for
the development of innovative and effective vaccines for pandemic
flu, as part of the EU's Framework VI Program.
Dr. Rappuoli sees the significance of this project as a great opportunity
for European scientists to form a common European front against
the avian flu crisis ‚ something which would also coincide
with the Lisbon strategy, which aims to put Europe at the forefront
of innovative science.
Dr. Rino Rappuoli
VP Vaccines Research & Chief Executive Officer
Via Fiorentina 1
I- 53100 Siena Italy