John R. Mascola

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John R. Mascola
John R. Mascola, M.D.jpg
John R. Mascola, M.D.
Director of the Vaccine Research Center
DeputyJulie E. Ledgerwood
Richard A. Koup
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center

John R. Mascola is an American physician-scientist, immunologist and infectious disease specialist.  He was the director of the Vaccine Research Center[1] (VRC), part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH).  He also served as a principal advisor to Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, on vaccines and biomedical research affairs.

An internationally recognized expert on vaccine and antibody-based product development,[2][3][4] Mascola has led biomedical research efforts targeting a wide breadth of viral pathogens for more than 30 years.

As part of the United States Government COVID-19 Response, Mascola led[5] the Vaccine Development Team (VDT) of Operation Warp Speed facilitating the rapid development, evaluation, and subsequent authorization of effective COVID-19 vaccines.[6]


Mascola graduated from Tufts University[7] in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree and earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1985.[8] He completed a residency in internal medicine at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, followed by a fellowship in retroviral diseases at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).[9] Mascola is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases.


Early Biomedical Research

Mascola began his career in biomedical research as a U.S. Navy physician.  Upon completion of his medical training, he served as a Staff Research Physician in the Division of Retrovirology, WRAIR from 1993 – 2000. During this time, Mascola advanced multiple studies of HIV immunology and vaccine development. His research demonstrated the importance of neutralizing antibodies in protection against HIV and helped explain the reason that HIV vaccines have not yet been effective.[10][11]

Leading the Vaccine Research Center

Mascola greets President Barack Obama
in 2014

Mascola joined the Vaccine Research Center in 2000 as a founding investigator and Principal Deputy Director. In this role, he worked with the Center’s founding director, Gary Nabel, to build a broad research portfolio, including the capacity of the Center to develop and evaluate new vaccines and antibody products.

Mascola was appointed Director of the VRC in 2013[12] and provides leadership to the scientific and clinical research activities of the Center, guiding development of vaccine and antibody-based research programs for diseases of high public health importance. Scientific advances and research include the isolation, characterization, and advanced development of antibodies targeting HIV,[13][14][15] Ebola,[16][17][18][19] and COVID-19, the clinical evaluation of novel vaccine candidates and biologic products targeting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV),[20][21] influenza,[22][23] Malaria,[24][25] and Zika,[26][27] among others, and strategic collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotech partners advancing VRC products into effective public health interventions.[28]

Novel Vaccine and Antibody-Based Product Research

Mascola’s laboratory[1] research focuses on rational design approaches to produce effective vaccine and antibody products to prevent and treat infectious diseases. His laboratory also studies how the immune system generates protective antibody responses against viruses and other infectious pathogens.

In 2010, Dr. Mascola and colleagues discovered an antibody called VRC01[13][14] that potently neutralizes the HIV virus. Over the course of a decade, the VRC developed this and more potent antibodies to understand their potential to prevent and treat HIV infection. Investigators at the VRC also discovered an antibody against Ebola, and during the 2018 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this antibody, called mAb114, was shown to dramatically reduce mortality of Ebola virus disease.[19] mAb114 has been developed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and licensed for use by the FDA.[29] Other major vaccines and antibodies under development include those for RSV,[20] chikungunya virus,[30] and improved vaccines for Influenza.[31]

Response to COVID-19

Mascola and his colleague Barney Graham led the partnerships[6][32][33] between the VRC and Moderna to design and develop a successful mRNA vaccine that became mRNA-1273, authorized for use (EUA) in December 2020[34] and with AbCellera and Eli Lilly[35] to isolate a SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody[36] that became Ly-CoV555 (bamlanivimab) authorized for use in November 2020.

Mascola helped establish and lead the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Development Team (VDT),[5][6] responsible for coordinating the effort to develop and evaluate the COVID-19 vaccines selected within the US Government portfolio. He also serves as senior member on both NIH and HHS leadership teams that provided recommendations on COVID-19 variants of concern,[37] vaccine boosters and heterologous vaccine platforms.

Professional societies

2002: American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI)[38]                                                                                             

2014: Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology (AAM)[39]                                          

2017: Elected, National Academy of Medicine (NAM)[40][41]

Selected awards

2020: Washingtonian Magazine Washingtonians of the Year[42]          

2021: NIH Director’s Award for Outstanding Efforts in the Pursuit of Effective Vaccines and Therapeutics to COVID-19[43]                                           


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  9. ^ "Editorial introductions". Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS. 4 (5): vii. September 2009. doi:10.1097/COH.0b013e3283304ea1. ISSN 1746-630X.
  10. ^ Mascola, John R.; Montefiori, David C. (2010). "The role of antibodies in HIV vaccines". Annual Review of Immunology. 28: 413–444. doi:10.1146/annurev-immunol-030409-101256. ISSN 1545-3278. PMID 20192810.
  11. ^ Kwong, Peter D.; Mascola, John R.; Nabel, Gary J. (September 2013). "Broadly neutralizing antibodies and the search for an HIV-1 vaccine: the end of the beginning". Nature Reviews Immunology. 13 (9): 693–701. doi:10.1038/nri3516. ISSN 1474-1741. PMID 23969737. S2CID 13423553.
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  13. ^ a b Zhou, Tongqing; Georgiev, Ivelin; Wu, Xueling; Yang, Zhi-Yong; Dai, Kaifan; Finzi, Andrés; Kwon, Young Do; Scheid, Johannes; Shi, Wei; Xu, Ling; Yang, Yongping (2010-08-13). "Structural Basis for Broad and Potent Neutralization of HIV-1 by Antibody VRC01". Science. 329 (5993): 811–817. Bibcode:2010Sci...329..811Z. doi:10.1126/science.1192819. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 2981354. PMID 20616231.
  14. ^ a b Wu, Xueling; Zhou, Tongqing; Zhu, Jiang; Zhang, Baoshan; Georgiev, Ivelin; Wang, Charlene; Chen, Xuejun; Longo, Nancy S.; Louder, Mark; McKee, Krisha; O’Dell, Sijy (2011-09-16). "Focused Evolution of HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies Revealed by Structures and Deep Sequencing". Science. 333 (6049): 1593–1602. Bibcode:2011Sci...333.1593W. doi:10.1126/science.1207532. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 3516815. PMID 21835983.
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  16. ^ Misasi, John; Gilman, Morgan S.A.; Kanekiyo, Masaru; Gui, Miao; Cagigi, Alberto; Mulangu, Sabue; Corti, Davide; Ledgerwood, Julie E.; Lanzavecchia, Antonio; Cunningham, James; Muyembe-Tamfun, Jean Jacques (2016-03-18). "Structural and Molecular Basis for Ebola Virus Neutralization by Protective Human Antibodies". Science. 351 (6279): 1343–1346. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1343M. doi:10.1126/science.aad6117. ISSN 0036-8075. PMC 5241105. PMID 26917592.
  17. ^ Corti, Davide; Misasi, John; Mulangu, Sabue; Stanley, Daphne A.; Kanekiyo, Masaru; Wollen, Suzanne; Ploquin, Aurélie; Doria-Rose, Nicole A.; Staupe, Ryan P.; Bailey, Michael; Shi, Wei (2016-03-18). "Protective monotherapy against lethal Ebola virus infection by a potently neutralizing antibody". Science. 351 (6279): 1339–1342. Bibcode:2016Sci...351.1339C. doi:10.1126/science.aad5224. PMID 26917593. S2CID 206643628.
  18. ^ Gaudinski, Martin R.; Coates, Emily E.; Novik, Laura; Widge, Alicia; Houser, Katherine V.; Burch, Eugeania; Holman, LaSonji A.; Gordon, Ingelise J.; Chen, Grace L.; Carter, Cristina; Nason, Martha (2019-03-02). "Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, and Immunogenicity of mAb114: A Phase 1 Trial of a Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibody Targeting Ebola Virus Glycoprotein". Lancet. 393 (10174): 889–898. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30036-4. ISSN 0140-6736. PMC 6436835. PMID 30686586.
  19. ^ a b Mulangu, Sabue; Dodd, Lori E.; Richard T. Davey, Jr; Mbaya, Olivier Tshiani; Proschan, Michael; Mukadi, Daniel; Manzo, Mariano Lusakibanza; Nzolo, Didier; Oloma, Antoine Tshomba; Ibanda, Augustin; Ali, Rosine (2019-11-27). "A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Ebola Virus Disease Therapeutics". New England Journal of Medicine. 381 (24): 2293–2303. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1910993. PMID 31774950. S2CID 208335835.
  20. ^ a b Crank, Michelle C.; Ruckwardt, Tracy J.; Chen, Man; Morabito, Kaitlyn M.; Phung, Emily; Costner, Pamela J.; Holman, LaSonji A.; Hickman, Somia P.; Berkowitz, Nina M.; Gordon, Ingelise J.; Yamshchikov, Galina V. (2019-08-02). "A proof of concept for structure-based vaccine design targeting RSV in humans". Science. 365 (6452): 505–509. Bibcode:2019Sci...365..505C. doi:10.1126/science.aav9033. PMID 31371616. S2CID 199379888.
  21. ^ Ruckwardt, Tracy J.; Morabito, Kaitlyn M.; Phung, Emily; Crank, Michelle C.; Costner, Pamela J.; Holman, LaSonji A.; Chang, Lauren A.; Hickman, Somia P.; Berkowitz, Nina M.; Gordon, Ingelise J.; Yamshchikov, Galina V. (2021-10-01). "Safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the respiratory syncytial virus prefusion F subunit vaccine DS-Cav1: a phase 1, randomised, open-label, dose-escalation clinical trial". The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 9 (10): 1111–1120. doi:10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00098-9. ISSN 2213-2600. PMC 8487912. PMID 33864736.
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  24. ^ "First Human Trial of Monoclonal Antibody to Prevent Malaria Opens | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  25. ^ "Monoclonal Antibody Prevents Malaria in Small NIH Trial | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  26. ^ "NIH Begins Testing Investigational Zika Vaccine in Humans | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  27. ^ "Phase 2 Zika Vaccine Trial Begins in U.S., Central and South America | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  28. ^ Corey, Lawrence; Mascola, John R.; Fauci, Anthony S.; Collins, Francis S. (2020-05-29). "A strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine R&D". Science. 368 (6494): 948–950. doi:10.1126/science.abc5312. PMID 32393526. S2CID 218600299.
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  31. ^ Kanekiyo, Masaru; Joyce, M. Gordon; Gillespie, Rebecca A.; Gallagher, John R.; Andrews, Sarah F.; Yassine, Hadi M.; Wheatley, Adam K.; Fisher, Brian E.; Ambrozak, David R.; Creanga, Adrian; Leung, Kwanyee (March 2019). "Mosaic nanoparticle display of diverse influenza virus hemagglutinins elicits broad B cell responses". Nature Immunology. 20 (3): 362–372. doi:10.1038/s41590-018-0305-x. ISSN 1529-2908. PMC 6380945. PMID 30742080.
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  36. ^ Khamsi, Roxanne. "May I Borrow Your Covid Immunity?". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  37. ^ Mascola, John R.; Graham, Barney S.; Fauci, Anthony S. (2021-04-06). "SARS-CoV-2 Viral Variants—Tackling a Moving Target". JAMA. 325 (13): 1261–1262. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.2088. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 33571363. S2CID 231899701.
  38. ^ "The American Society for Clinical Investigation". Retrieved 2021-11-19.
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  40. ^ "Member". National Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
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