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New faculty: John Wilson uses synthetic vaccines to further the fight against diseases

Posted by on Monday, October 7, 2013 in News.

Growing up close to nature in the small timber-and-fishing community of Gold Beach, Ore.—population 2,000—gave John Wilson an early interest in biology and biologically inspired design.

That, combined with an aptitude for math and physics, drew him into the field of bioengineering. When Wilson sets up his lab at Vanderbilt in January, the new assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering will be developing synthetic vaccines.

Since Edward Jenner pioneered the first vaccine against smallpox in 1796, the development of vaccines—biological preparations that improve an individual’s immunity to a specific disease—has been one of the greatest public health success stories, breaking the death grip of dozens of infectious diseases. However, scientists have not yet succeeded in developing vaccines for many significant diseases, such as malaria, HIV and even cancer.



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