Ashley Birkett was appointed Director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), a product development program of PATH, in October 2013, having first joined PATH in 2008 as MVI’s director of research and development (R&D).
As MVI director, Ashley is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the program’s strategy, including programmatic, administrative, and financial management aspects, to develop new models and explore new pathways that will accelerate the development of malaria vaccines. He leads a staff of more than 40 professionals representing scientific, clinical trial, regulatory, forecasting, program readiness, and other key capabilities.
Ashley has more than 20 years of vaccine development experience, initially with biotechnology companies, where he successfully advanced novel influenza and malaria vaccine candidates from research through first-in-human clinical studies. Prior to joining MVI, he was senior director of preclinical research at Acambis (now Sanofi Pasteur Biologics Co.), where he had responsibility for the company's global preclinical vaccine research portfolio, with a special focus on influenza and adjuvant technology identification. He served in similar roles at Apovia Inc. and, prior to that, Immune Complex Corporation (ICC), including seven years (1997-2004) leading the Malaria Vaccine Program housed first at ICC and then at Apovia. This program was the first corporate partnership for MVI after its founding as a program of PATH in 1999.
As director of R&D at MVI, Ashley led the Transmission-Blocking Vaccine Priority Area, which is focused on execution of a fully integrated product development plan (i.e., from R&D through commercialization) for vaccines to accelerate malaria elimination and eradication. He also guided MVI’s portfolio of evaluation technology projects, which develop and refine ways to assess vaccine efficacy prior to large-scale field trials, and provided technical support across the range of MVI’s vaccine development projects.
Ashley earned a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Virginia Commonwealth University; he has a BSc (Honors) in applied biological sciences from the University of the West of England in the United Kingdom.