Plotkin Award Winners

Dr. Phil Johnson


Dr. Phil Johnson

CSO, Executive Vice President, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Johnson is CSO and Executive Vice President of the prestigious Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In this role he is responsible for the scientists who compose of the nation’s most elegant and prestigious gene therapy and vaccines applied research programs. He is being honored for his seminal work in the area of AAV vector development.

Dr. Johnson’s current major focus is to develop new approaches for immunoprophylaxis against HIV using gene transfer technology.

He has been a major player in HIV research since the late 1980’s. Some of his lab's important studies include molecular characterization of feline and monkey lentiviruses and detailed characterization of SIV pathogenesis in Non Human Primates.

For over 20 years his lab has been pioneering the development of Adenoviral Associated AAV vectors for vaccines and gene therapy uses.

  • His group was the first (~ 20 years ago) to recognize the potential for AAV vectors in the vaccine field. Since that time, our AAV vector-based HIV vaccines have been tested in hundreds of subjects in Europe, India, and Africa.
  • His work created the first commercially viable large scale manufacturing method for AAV vectors. AAV vectors made using his technology have been tested in multiple disease applications including cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, retinal diseases, and muscular dystrophy.
  • His group was the first to show that AAV vector genomes persisted primarily as large episomal concatamers in post-mitotic cells -- not only in animal models, but also in humans. This was an important finding because of safety concerns about AAV vectors. He went on to report pioneering work into the biology of wild-type AAV biology in humans.
  • This work debunked the prevailing wisdom that naturally occurring AAV integrated into host cell DNA as part of its life cycle. In fact, wild-type AAV and AAV vector genomes display identical biologic properties. The key for vector safety is the biologic effect of the transgene in the vector. 
  • His group was the first (over a decade ago) to propose using AAV vectors to deliver antibody genes as a strategy to prevent HIV infection and other infectious diseases.

This development of AAV as a vector for human antibody delivery has major implications for the field of immune therapy way beyond HIV.

Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D


Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D

Senior Vice President of Vaccine Research and Early Development, Pfizer Inc

Dr. Kathrin Jansen is senior vice president of Vaccine Research and Early Development at Pfizer Inc and a member of Pfizer’s WRD leadership team. In 2006, Dr. Jansen joined Wyeth, now part of Pfizer, as senior vice president, responsible for leading vaccine research with a focus on infectious disease targets, early development and clinical testing. In this capacity, she and colleagues at Pfizer supported the pediatric licensure of Prevnar 13® and the adult licensure application of Prevnar 13, as well as the Community Acquired Pneumonia Immunization Trial for Adults (CAPiTA). In addition, she directed the Company's Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B vaccine efforts to develop a licensure strategy for the vaccine that led to the successful initiation of phase 3 clinical trials. Furthermore, she and her group developed vaccines against Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile that are in phase 2 (Staphylococcus aureus vaccine) and phase 1 (Clostridium difficile vaccine) clinical evaluation.

Prior to joining Wyeth, Dr. Jansen served as VaxGen's chief scientific officer and senior vice president for Research and Development with responsibility for VaxGen's late-stage development pipeline. Earlier in her career, Dr. Jansen worked at Merck Research Laboratories for 12 years where she directed a number of vaccine research efforts, including Merck's novel bacterial vaccine programs. Notably, her efforts led to the licensure of the world's first cervical cancer vaccine for the prevention of human papillomavirus infection (HPV).

Dr. Jansen was appointed an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2010. She received her doctoral degree in microbiology, biochemistry and genetics from Phillips Universität, Marburg, Germany. Following completion of her formal training and postdoctoral work at the Institute for Mikrobiologie in Marburg, Dr. Jansen continued her postdoctoral training with Professor G.P. Hess at Cornell University. She then joined the Glaxo Institute for Molecular Biology in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin


Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin

Emeritus Professor, University of Pennsylvania / Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin is Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania, and Adjunct Professor of the Johns Hopkins University. Until 1991, he was Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor of Virology at the Wistar Institute and, at the same time, Director of Infectious Diseases and Senior Physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In 1991, Dr. Plotkin left the University to join the vaccine manufacturer, Pasteur-Mérieux-Connaught, where for seven years he was Medical and Scientific Director, based at Marnes-la-Coquette, outside of Paris. The same company is now named Sanofi Pasteur. He is now consultant to vaccine manufacturers, biotechnology companies, and non-profit research organizations as principal of Vaxconsult, LLC.

Dr. Plotkin attended New York University, where he received a B.A. degree, and then the State University of New York Medical School in Brooklyn where he received an M.D. degree in 1956. His subsequent career included an internship at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital for Sick Children in London, and three years in the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control of the US Public Health Service.

He has been chairman of the Infectious Diseases Committee and the AIDS Task Force of the American Academy of Pediatrics, liaison member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and Chairman of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research Committee of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Plotkin received the Bruce Medal in Preventive Medicine of the American College of Physicians, the Distinguished Physician Award of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the Clinical Virology Award of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology, the Richard Day Master Teacher in Pediatrics Award of the Alumni Association of New York Downstate Medical College, and the Marshall Award of the European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

In June 1998, he received the French Legion of Honor Medal; in June 2001, the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; in May 2002, the Sabin Gold Medal; in September 2004, the Fleming (Bristol) Award of the Infectious Diseases Society of America; in May 2007, the medal of the Fondation Mérieux; and in 2009, the Finland Award of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Hilleman Award of the American Society for Microbiology.

He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and to the French Academy of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Plotkin holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Rouen (France) and the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain). Named lectures in his honor have been established at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting and at the International Advanced Vaccinology Course in Annecy, France. His bibliography includes nearly 700 articles and he has edited several books including the standard textbook on vaccines, now in its 5th edition. He developed the rubella vaccine now in standard use throughout the world, is codeveloper of the newly licensed pentavalent rotavirus vaccine, and has worked extensively on the development and application of other vaccines including anthrax, oral polio, rabies, varicella, and cytomegalovirus.