Vaccine Research Center History


50 Years of Vaccine Research


Baylor College of Medicine investigators have responded to a variety of evaluation and surveillance requests from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases over the decades. In the early years, efforts were focused on respiratory virus and mycoplasmal vaccine studies in healthy adults. Baylor operated the following units:

  • Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit for the NIAID from 1968 through 1999, and again from 2002 to the present
  • Influenza Research Center from 1974 through 1990
  • Acute Viral Respiratory Disease Unit from 1990 through 1995
  • Maternal Immunization for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases in Neonates and Infants contract from 1991 to 2003
  • Respiratory Pathogens Research Unit from 1996 to 2003
  • Viral Respiratory Pathogens Research Unit from 2003 through 2012

More recently, work requested by NIAID has required the development of new study populations and other clinical directions, with a particular focus on biodefense and pandemic influenza vaccine evaluations. These evaluations have included viral, bacterial, and parasitic microbes, and have utilized populations of infants, children, and elderly and chronically ill or other high-risk persons. Since 1990 we have performed assessments of vaccines, antivirals, biologicals, infectious agent challenges, and other clinical research protocols in over 20,000 persons in diverse populations, including males, females of childbearing potential, pregnant women, healthy and ill persons, infants, elderly, persons with high-risk conditions, minorities, closed and open populations. In addition, during the 12-year (1998-2010) community-based influenza vaccination trial in central Texas, supported through two NIAID cooperative agreements (U01) and industry, we administered 70,353 doses of live attenuated influenza vaccine, and 7,672 doses of inactivated influenza vaccine to 68,910 age-eligible children (cumulative number).

The Baylor VTEU, led by principal investigator Hana El Sahly, M.D., was recently renewed, with a potential to access nearly $952,000,000 over a 10-year period.


Additional Research Areas


In addition to the federally supported contracts and cooperative agreements identified above, the current Vaccine Research Center receives federal support from the HIV Vaccine Trial Network, the NIH Vaccine Research Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for determining influenza vaccine effectiveness in real time, and NIAID/DMID for vaccine and antiviral screening in small animal models, and for a prospective study among children under two years old hospitalized for bronchiolitis to determine predictors of recurrent wheezing/asthma. Finally, our group periodically conducts research that is supported by industry partners, including one recent award from Abt Associates to conduct research regarding influenza A/H7N9 pandemic preparedness (clinical and laboratory components).