The top three officials at VaxGen, the maker of the experimental HIV vaccine AIDSVAX, which was shown in clinical trials to be ineffective in preventing HIV infections, announced that they are leaving the company to form a nonprofit AIDS vaccine foundation. President Donald Francis and senior vice president for research and development Phillip Berman will leave the company on February 1 and are stepping down from VaxGen's board of directors. Senior vice president for finance and administration Carter Lee is also stepping down from the board but will continue to oversee financial statements for the company for the next few months.
"Developing an effective HIV vaccine is an expensive and lengthy process fraught with immense scientific challenges," said Francis in a company press release. "But given our experience with HIV and the lessons we have learned during the many years we have spent in vaccine development, [Berman, Lee] and I believe that we can make an important contribution to the field." He said the new foundation's goal will be to develop preventative and therapeutic HIV vaccines for developing nations.