The excitement at GSK's Belgium-based vaccine research center is palpable as we make our last preparations to leave for Nairobi, Kenya, for next week's MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference. MIM stands for Multilateral Initiative on Malaria and it is the world's largest malaria meeting.
The conference brings together malaria researchers and control experts from malaria-endemic countries as well as malaria researchers, science administrators, and representatives from other countries, private foundations, governments and international organizations throughout the world.
We'll be giving a progress report on RTS,S, the world's most clinically advanced malaria vaccine candidate. A pivotal Phase III efficacy trial that will involve up to 16,000 children is underway in Africa.
This moment has special relevance to me because I helped invent RTS,S in the late 1980's and I have been working on it ever since. This is truly a shared endeavor, and we've enlisted such great partners as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and research centers in the U.S., Europe and Africa.
Malaria kills about 800,000 African children every year and this vaccine has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives. I'm proud that the company I work for has not shied away from this technological and commercial challenge, and has invested over $300 million of its own resources in this project.
(To learn more, watch this story on CNBC.)