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Visterra awarded a large contract to develop new monoclonal antibody for Influenza :Dr Brian Pereria is CEO

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Visterra Awarded Contract Valued at up to $204.5 Million to Advance the Development of VIS410, its Novel Monoclonal Antibody for the Treatment of Influenza A, by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visterra, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company that uses its proprietary technology platform to identify unique disease targets and design novel therapeutics for infectious diseases, today announced that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded Visterra a five-year contract valued at up to $204.5 million for the development of VIS410, Visterra’s novel monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of seasonal and potential pandemic influenza A.

“We are pleased that BARDA has awarded this contract covering the development of VIS410”

“We are pleased that BARDA has awarded this contract covering the development of VIS410,” said Brian Pereira, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Visterra. “Visterra is proud to play an important role in addressing the significant public health concern of seasonal influenza A and the growing threat of emerging strains of influenza A. This award from BARDA will support the continued development of VIS410, our lead product candidate, which was designed and engineered using our proprietary technology platform.”

The BARDA contract includes funding for performing pre-clinical toxicology studies, conducting clinical trials, manufacturing of materials for clinical trials and continued optimization of manufacturing processes, and associated regulatory activities intended to advance VIS410.

The contract includes a 40-month base period with committed funding of $29.1 million and option periods that, if exercised in full by BARDA, would extend the contract to a total of 5 years and increase the total funding up to $204.5 million. The full funding, if received, will support Visterra’s plans to submit a Biologics License Application (BLA) for VIS410 to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, under Contract No. HHSO100201500018C.

About VIS410

VIS410 is a broad spectrum human monoclonal antibody designed and engineered to neutralize all strains of influenza A, including mutated strains and strains that have recently emerged. VIS410 is a direct acting anti-viral that inhibits hemagglutinin-mediated cell membrane fusion, thereby preventing viral replication. Visterra is developing VIS410 as a single administration treatment for hospitalized patients with influenza A infection, including seasonal and potential pandemic strains.

About Influenza

Influenza virus infection is one of the most common infectious diseases and can lead to severe illness and death. Influenza epidemics occur seasonally in most countries, resulting in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths worldwide. Although the usual strains of influenza that circulate annually are of a significant public health concern, far more lethal influenza strains have emerged periodically, leading in some cases to pandemics. Recently, both H5N1 and H7N9 isolates have emerged in humans, causing severe disease with high mortality, although to this point only limited human-to-human transmission has been observed. Nonetheless, predicted mutations in both H5 and H7 strains have the potential to enhance human-to-human transmission and create pandemic potential. In addition, data that H7N9 strains are more readily transmitted from poultry to humans compared to other avian influenza viruses, and documentation of resistance of H7N9 to existing anti-viral drugs, have fueled increased concern.

About Visterra

Visterra is a biotechnology company that uses its proprietary Hierotope™ Platform to identify unique disease targets and design and engineer effective therapeutics. The company’s technology is powered by computational tools and techniques, the core of which is Atomic Interaction Network (AIN) analysis, which identifies a specific area, or epitope, on the target site that is fundamental to its structure and function. This ideal epitope, or hierotope, becomes the target against which the company designs a novel therapeutic with the potential to effectively and durably combat the disease. The company is currently focused on therapeutics for infectious diseases, and its lead product candidate, VIS410, is a broad spectrum human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of both seasonal and pandemic influenza. The company’s second product candidate, VIS513, is a human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of dengue that has been shown to broadly neutralize all four dengue virus serotypes. Visterra was founded based on scientific work developed in the laboratory of Dr. Ram Sasisekharan and licensed from MIT. For more information, please visit



Dr Ashok Balasubramanyam Interim Chair at Baylor

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Ashok Balasubramanyam, M.D., Interim Chair, The Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Department of Medicine

Ashok Balasubramanyam, M.D., Interim Chair, The Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Department of Medicine

Dr Ashok Balasubramanyam, is a professor in the Department of Medicine in the Section of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism and in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

He received  medical degree from St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India. He was a resident and chief resident in Internal Medicine at Baylor, after which he completed a fellowship and post-doctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He served for many years as director of the Endocrine Fellowship Program, and is currently director of Baylor’s Clinical Scientist Training Program.

He has been a member of the Baylor faculty since 1994, and has served in education roles for the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He is an NIH-funded translational researcher within the Diabetes Research Center, and is chief of the Endocrine Service at Ben Taub Hospital.


Recipient of the OBA Lifetime Achievement Award - 2015

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Recipient of the OBA Lifetime Achievement Award - 2015
Image result for dr ragavendra baligaDr. Ragavendra R Baliga, MD, DNB, MBA, FACC, FACP, FRCP (Edin), is Professor of Internal Medicine at the Ohio State University and Associate Director, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Baliga is Editor-in-Chief, Textbook of Cardiology, McGraw Hill; Series Editor, Oxford University Press Cardiovascular Handbook Series; Deputy Editor, Global Heart Journal; and Associate Editor of American College of Cardiology Review Journal and Cardiology Review. He is currently board certified in (i) Internal Medicine, (ii) Cardiovascular Disease, and (iii) Advanced Heart Failure Transplant Cardiology. He has held teaching responsibilities at University of Aberdeen, Hammersmith Hospital (University of London), Harvard Medical School, University of Michigan, and Ohio State University.

Moreover, Dr. Baliga has written seventeen world-class textbooks – some published in multiple languages – over forty book chapters, over three hundred and fifty articles in professional journals, and has been on the Editorial Boards of twenty leading journals. 

A remarkable achievement was writing a book "200 Cases in Clinical Medicine" later expanded to "250 Cases in Medicine" that has became a reference manual for medical students. This book, along with other publications and presentations, enabled Dr. Baliga to win a NIH National Research Service Award, a 2-year grant to work at Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. Baliga epitomizes what it means to “win and spread our school's renown” and “with our deeds enrich her crown” 

Despite all of these profound accomplishments, Ragaven, as we know him, remains the same person we knew as a studious yet playful young boy at St. Joseph's. He retains his warmth, his easy-going nature, his wit, and readiness to share. He recently demonstrated his latent poetic skills by composing a series of Odes dedicated to our School and Teachers. 

Dr. Baliga is a role-model for our times. He has set a standard for excellence that is a compelling testimony to what “faith and toil” can accomplish. The lifetime achievement award will be a well-deserved “victor's worthy crown” for him. However, the ever-humble and self-effacing Dr. Baliga will probably say, “...the only thing this award will tell the students and alumni of St. Joseph's is that if I can do this, then all of you can”.

this is from the Saint Josephs Blog


Dr Mohan's response to post on this website

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I am filled with a burning sense of being wronged by a post that appeared in in my name, but not posted by me! It took me completely by surprise. I could only add a “comment” on the post as my immediate response. I realize now, after some deep reflection, that I need to say some things very clearly. The present post is all my own

The first thing is something Anura Kurpad brought to my attention this afternoon, forthright as he always is – I had been a part of the core committee myself, and yet it appeared that I was only pointing fingers others. I immediately saw the point. So, let it not be thought that I am shirking from accepting some responsibility myself. Thank you, Anura, for doing exactly what a good friend should do.

A couple of people met me, and a few messaged me, “complimenting” me for the write-up. I feel no sense of achievement about the write-up. People have sought to make it sound like some glass ceiling had been broken. There was no glass ceiling. There is no case for compliments.

When viewed in the public domain, the write-up looks like a litany against the deeds of some people with malevolent intent. The narrative is not about persons – it is about the failure of a system. I would like everybody to understand this, before they begin to point fingers, or engage in the familiar nudge-nudge wink-wink routine. Let not voyeurism take the place of soul-searching. The questions we honestly need to ask ourselves is whether we would have done anything any differently if we were doing them, and whether we would feel the same sangfroid if we were the persons being blamed. I am afraid that the answer to both questions is in the negative. These are human foibles, and we are as vulnerable to them as anybody could be. No need to place unnecessary burdens on peoples’ conscience with a touch of righteousness.

The issues and actions that form the substance of that post could be part of the organizational behavior of any organization. If anything, there is a warning in it for those of us working with the Alumni Association (and other organisations in their private capacities) to ensure that our colleagues have the support to be correct in their actions. The sort of advice that Anura gave me today is a good example. We should strive even more now to ensure rectitude and credibility.

I understand, again from what people have told me, that the write up has demoralized alumni who are/were potential donors, and there is some kind of movement to withhold contributions to any cause associated with St John’s. This would be gross, inappropriate and counterproductive overreach. The task before us is to ensure that the donations are utilized well, and their benefits maximized. There are plenty of campus causes that require continual support from the Alumni – ­Student scholarships, Student placement, faculty exchanges, re-skilling of faculty, research, innovations and community initiatives. I would strongly urge those that can give to do so generously, but ensuring that the cause they are donating for is served. Accountability must be both achieved and sought for. Do not extend a cold hand.

I would like to acknowledge the many non-alumni among the donors, including faculty and religious houses. We should appreciate them for their generosity. We usually reserve our accolades to alumni, leaving the former out. Their sacrifices for St John’s are precious. There are also a few who have been repeatedly but silently giving of their hard earned monies, and some more, to St John’s. They shun any public acknowledgement, and often a private one too. Let us be grateful to them.

As a pioneer batch member wrote in, nothing could be sweeter than corrections happening rapidly, and the establishment of systems to avoid recurrence of such issues.

A. Mohan




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