Selection Committee

The Selection Committee consists of domestic and international experts who have extensive knowledge and experience in research and development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. This committee evaluates investment proposals and reports from development partners and recommends the investments to the Board of Directors. This committee includes no private company representatives to avoid any Conflicts of Interest between our backers and development partners.
Dennis Schmatz, PhD
Former Head of Infectious Diseases Research, Merck Research Labs, USA
Former Head of Research, MSD-Japan

Dr. Schmatz has over 30 years of drug discovery and development experience in pharmaceutical research. He has a proven track record in managing large research teams across diverse therapeutic areas toward the successful delivery of pipeline compounds in infectious diseases, oncology and diabetes. He served as Vice President of Infectious Disease Research at Merck for more than a decade and as Merck Research Site Head in Japan. He has been an active participant in global health initiatives for over 25 years, working with the World Health Organization (WHO), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He currently Chairs MMV’s Scientific Board and consults for Biotech and Pharmaceutical companies.

Naoto Uemura, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Oita University Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Naoto Uemura has a broad background in clinical pharmacology, especially early clinical development studies such as FIH/POC trials to guide critical decisions.  He currently serves as PI for various clinical trials in Oita University Hospital where he leads Clinical Pharmacology Center.  Dr. Uemura in the past served as director and senior principal scientist at Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Merck Research Laboratories, planning, executing and analyzing early development programs. Currently Dr. Uemura is a full professor in Oita University Faculty of Medicine and co-appointed as an adjunct professor at Osaka University Hospital Department of Medical Innovation and as Clinical Development Director at RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms.

Sophie Allauzen, PhD
Independent Diagnostic Expert

Dr. Sophie Allauzen applies expert-level knowledge of diagnostic research, product development and other diagnostic technologies toward the development and implementation of innovative strategies to address relevant global-health issues. Her background includes 20 years of international experience in R&D, business development, and portfolio management in various diagnostic industries, including Novartis Diagnostics, Bio-Rad and Sanofi Diagnostics Pasteur, successfully managing full lifecycle (R&D, planning, commercialization, and registration) of innovative diagnostic products in developed and developing worlds. For the past 5 years, she worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where she was overseeing the malaria and complex neglected disease programs. She is currently an independent consultant based in San Francisco, CA.

Ralf Clemens, MD, PhD
Independent Vaccine Expert

Dr. Ralf Clemens is a leading expert in vaccinology with over 30 years of experience in global vaccine development at Takeda, Novartis and GSK, where he was responsible for technology transfers and business strategies for developing countries. Dr. Clemens developed and brought to licensure over 25 different vaccines and has published extensively on vaccines and public health. He obtained his medical degree from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany), and an Executive Management degree from the Wharton Business School (Philadelphia, USA). Dr. Clemens currently serves on multiple advisory, supervisory and scientific boards for biotechnology companies and international organizations such as IVI, AREF, AERAS and BMGF.

Ann Mills-Duggan, PhD
Partner, Innovations

Dr. Ann Mills-Duggan joined the Wellcome Trust in 2010 and heads the Seeding Drug Discovery Fund which supports small molecule drug discovery and development programs worldwide. Prior to joining the Trust she spent over twenty years in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently with UCB and previously with GlaxoSmithKline and GlaxoWellcome, working in research, licensing, alliance management and life science investing. Ann is a graduate of the University of Bath and earned her PhD at Imperial College, London. In addition to her role on the GHIT Selection Committee, Dr. Mills-Duggan is also a member of several strategy panels including the Steering Board of the UK’s HealthTech and Medicines Knowledge Transfer Network.

Ken Duncan, PhD
Deputy Director, Discovery & Translational Sciences
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Duncan leads the Gates Foundation's drug discovery program across a number of therapeutic areas including tuberculosis, malaria, helminth infections and diarrheal disease. Prior to joining the Foundation, he spent 16 years in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as Director, Diseases of the Developing World at GlaxoSmithKline. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, earned his PhD at the University of Glasgow, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT and Harvard Medical School.

Ken Ishii, MD, PhD
Professor, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo
Project Leader, Laboratory of Mockup Vaccine, National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition

Dr. Ken Ishii is currently Professor at Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo as well as Professor of the Laboratory of Vaccine Science at the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC), Osaka University in Japan. Until 2018, he was Director of Center for Vaccine and Adjuvant Research at National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition. Prof. Ishii obtained M.D. and a Ph.D. from the School of Medicine, Yokohama City University, Kanagawa, Japan. He is further qualified with his years of experience in vaccine research supported by numerous books and over 190 periodical publications over 20,000 citations since 1998 including 7 years as a IND reviewer at US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two years as Managing Director at Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), and over 20 years as an immunologist and vaccinologist.

Hiroo Koyama, PhD
Platform Unit Leader, Drug Discovery Chemistry Platform Unit
RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science

Dr. Hiroo Koyama has over 20 years of drug discovery experience in the US pharmaceutical industry both in a major pharma (Merck) and a biotech environment, where his effort was focused on medicinal chemistry for metabolic disorder, inflammatory disease, and rare disease programs. Since 2013, he’s been leading his medicinal chemistry group at RIKEN Program for Drug Discovery and Medical Technology Platforms, collaborating with more than a dozen universities and research institutions in Japan. He received his BA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and postdoctoral training at MIT chemistry department.

Gerd Michel, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Vela Diagnostics

Dr. Gerd Michel is Chief Scientific Officer at Vela Diagnostics, where he has also been Vice President of R&D and Chief Technology Officer. Previously, he was Senior Technology Officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and spent more than 18 years Abbott Labs, most recently as Director of Medical and Scientific Development for Europe, Middle East & Africa. He has held advisory posts at WHO, OECD, the German National Blood Advisory Board, and the Wellcome Trust. He obtained his PhD from the University of Heidelberg and has received numerous industry and academic awards.

Anna-Karin Tidén, PhD, MRSC
Independent Medicinal Chemistry Expert

Dr. Tidén is a Medicinal Chemist and a Project Leader, with over 25 years international experience. Working in Sweden and in the UK as an Associate Director at AstraZeneca she has a track record of success in leading and delivering research projects in a number of therapeutic areas, e.g. Infection, CNS, Respiratory and Inflammation. During the past eight years Dr. Tidén has worked as an independent consultant to academia, SMEs and large Pharma both in leading projects and performing due diligences. She has acted as an evaluator and is currently an advisor to the Wellcome Trust, UK, and is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for CD3, Belgium. Dr. Tidén achieved her MSc and earned her PhD from Stockholm University, Sweden, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Rieko Yajima, PhD
Director, Drug Discovery Innovation
SPARK Program in Translational Research
Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Rieko Yajima is the Director of Drug Discovery Innovation at Stanford SPARK. At SPARK, she works with researchers and a community of volunteer industry advisors to de-risk the science in drug discovery and diagnostic projects, and to identify the quickest path to the clinic. She has a Ph.D. in chemical biology and served as a science policy fellow at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Her previous roles include being an Associate Program Director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, where she advised the scientific community on interdisciplinary research collaboration, implementation, and evaluation, and being a Research Scholar at the Center for Design Research at Stanford.