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NIVI welcomes Executive Director and CEO to lead novel vaccine research and development initiative

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Initiative for Vaccines and Immunity (NIVI), a partnership between the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the University of Copenhagen, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Nicholas Jackson as its Executive Director and CEO. He takes on the role from 1 May 2024, marking a strategic milestone in NIVI’s pursuit of global health innovation in vaccines. 

NIVI, announced in December 2023, is composed of two entities: the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunity (NCVI), a state-of-the-art research centre anchored at the University of Copenhagen, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC), a company owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation to advance translational sciences and the development of novel vaccines. Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut (SSI) is also a key partner. 

Nicholas Jackson will hold a dual appointment as both the Executive Director of NCVI and the CEO of NVAC. His leadership will play an important role in NIVI’s mission to advance the understanding of systemic and airway immunity and develop vaccines that offer comprehensive protection against respiratory pathogens such as influenza, tuberculosis, and Group A Streptococcus. By merging expertise and ensuring synergy between NCVI and NVAC, Dr. Jackson aims to advance the translation of innovative research into development for tangible public health solutions. 

“Lower respiratory infections remain the world’s most deadly communicable disease and are ranked the fourth leading cause of mortality,” says Dr. Jackson. “At NIVI, I am proud to lead a paradigm shift in the application of an improved understanding of airway immunity to the development of new vaccines.” 

Nicholas Jackson brings over 25 years of experience in infectious diseases, vaccines, immunotherapeutics, research and development, and industry, making him the ideal candidate to lead NIVI on its journey towards groundbreaking discoveries and innovative development. The appointment is an important moment in the initiative’s journey towards revolutionizing vaccine development and combating respiratory infections. 

‘The perfect fit’
Dean of the University of Copenhagen, Professor Bente Merete Stallknecht, is delighted with Nicholas Jackson’s capability to create and understand the dynamics of basic research while translating them to clinical use. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jackson to lead NIVI,” she says. “His extensive experience and proven track record in vaccine development makes him the perfect fit to bridge the scientific research efforts of NIVI with its clinical development aspirations. We look forward to his leadership in advancing our collaborative efforts.” 

Peter Lawætz Andersen, Senior Vice President and Head of Infectious Diseases at the Novo Nordisk Foundation, agrees: “I believe that Nicholas Jackson’s extensive leadership experience, interpersonal skills, strategic vision, and proven track record align perfectly with the vision for NIVI, and will ensure that NIVI will become an internationally recognized translational research center.” 

Bridging science, innovation, and clinical application 
Dr. Jackson has a scientific background in infectious disease immunology and molecular biology with a Master of Science from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a doctorate from the University of Warwick.  

He has held leadership positions at esteemed R&D organizations such as GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, where he has led global vaccine programs resulting in the licensure of several products. Nicholas Jackson has also worked in public health at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). 

Within the initiative, NCVI will be responsible for research and education, while NVAC will facilitate rapid development of new vaccine candidates by accelerating the translation of the centre’s research results into phase 1 and 2 clinical studies. NVAC will also lead robust development plans that ensure efficient handover to a partner for late-stage development. Thus, NIVI will bridge the divisions between science, innovation, clinical application, regulatory considerations, and development. By spearheading NIVI, Dr. Jackson will ensure strong coordination between research and development, ultimately accelerating the delivery of life-saving vaccines. 

NCVI is anchored in the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Immunology and Microbiology. Head of Department, Professor Charlotte Bonefeld, underlines the international perspectives of the ED/CEO appointment. 

“I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Jackson to our Department as the Executive Director and CEO of NIVI. With an impressive track record and expertise in innovation and the vaccine development field, Dr. Jackson brings a unique international perspective, and I am certain that he will be a tremendous asset to our department and drive forward NIVI’s ambitious goals,” she says. 

About NIVI 

  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation has committed up to DKK 1.8 billion to NIVI, of which up to DKK 1.4 billion is a grant to the University of Copenhagen to establish NCVI. 
  • NIVI will be headed by Dr. Nicholas Jackson from 1 May 2024. 
  • NIVI will be established in two stages: Stage one (2024-2027) involves staff recruitment, the development of new international partnerships, and the initiation and advancement of key programs. By stage two (2028-2031), NIVI will be fully scaled and comprise 150-200 staff members based in Copenhagen. 
  • Statens Serum Institut (SSI) is an important key partner in the initiative. SSI has substantial expertise in vaccine design and development, and highly relevant research programs and infrastructure. 
  • Nicholas Jackson will head the two entities that make up NIVI – the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Vaccines and Immunity (NCVI), and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Vaccine Accelerator (NVAC). 

Find out more about NIVI here.

Further information

Judith Vonberg
Communications Specialist
+45 4172 7925 [email protected]