Leadership

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.
Co-Chair
Kiyoshi Kita, PhD
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
Professor and Dean, Nagasaki University School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health

Dr. Kita is Professor and Dean of Nagasaki University School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health. He was Professor of Biomedical Chemistry at The University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Medicine (1998-2016), where he also served as Vice Dean (2011-2015). He was President of the Japanese Society of Parasitology (2003-2006) and President of Japanese Biochemical Society (2009-2011). Additionally, he was Associate Professor of Parasitology at the Institute of Medical Science within the University of Tokyo (1991-1998) and Assistant Professor of Parasitology at Juntendo University’s School of Medicine (1987-1990). He earned his PhD in 1980 from the University of Tokyo, where he subsequently served as Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences.

Co-Chair
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.

Member
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.

Member
Ann Mills-Duggan, PhD
Head, Seeding Drug Discovery Fund
Business Development, Innovations
Wellcome Trust

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.

Member
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.

Member
Kouji Hattori, PhD
Project Professor, Nagoya City University
Visiting Lecturer, United Centers for Advanced Research and Translational Medicine
Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine

Dr. Hattori is Project Professor of United Centers for Advanced Research and Translational Medicine at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in 2014 and of Nagoya City University in 2016. He has over 30 years of experience in drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Tohoku University, he has contributed to a few projects as a leader at Fujisawa Pharmaceutical and served as a senior director of the chemistry department at Astellas. He is a graduate of Osaka University, earned his Ph.D. from Nagoya University, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology. He is a longtime committee member in charge of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan.

Member
Ken Ishii, MD, PhD
Professor, the Laboratory of Vaccine Science at the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC), Osaka University
Director, Center for Vaccine and Adjuvant Research at National Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition.

Dr. Ken Ishii is currently 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.

Member
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.

Member
Yasuko Mori, MD, PhD
Professor, Division of Clinical Virology, Center for Infectious Diseases
Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine

Dr. Yasuko Mori is Professor of Clinical Virology at Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine. Her current work focuses on human herpesvirus 6A/B (HHV-6A/B) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV). She is a longtime HHV-6 Foundation Scientific Advisory Board Member. Her group also has intensively worked on the development of a polyvalent live vaccine based on the current varicella vaccine. Her research fields include virology and vaccinology.

Member
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.

Member
Aya Yajima, MSc, PhD
Technical Officer, Malaria, other Vectorborne and Parasitic Diseases Unit
Division of Communicable Diseases
World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office

Dr. Aya Yajima is the focal point of neglected tropical diseases (NTD) control and elimination in the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office. She coordinates with WHO Headquarters, Country Offices, donors and partners to provide technical support for NTD-endemic Member States in the Region for accelerating control and elimination of NTDs. Formerly she was a technical officer at the Department of Control of NTD, WHO Headquarters where she supported development of various technical guidelines and tools to facilitate and monitor implementation of preventive chemotherapy interventions. She is a graduate of the University of London (Queen Mary) and earned PhD at the University of Tokyo on transmission control of foodborne trematodiases in Viet Nam.