IAVI Case Study

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) is a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. They work with partners in 25 countries to research, design, and develop vaccine candidates through targeted investments in the design and development of new tools for prevention. IAVI is funded by the Gates Foundation and charitable contributions and have focused on AIDS vaccine development for over 10 years.

NineSigma, as part of its NineSigma Gives Back program, donated its technology search services to help IAVI advance HIV vaccine research by indentifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine. 

Societal Impact

The creation of an effective vaccine is the most economical and practical way to eliminate AIDS. NineSigma collaborated with IAVI to help advance HIV vaccine research by identifying new approaches to the design of a potential vaccine.

"Open innovation offers a new way to address and, we hope, solve problems impeding the development of effective HIV vaccines." - Andy Zynga, CEO, NineSigma


In order to have an effective HIV vaccine, the vaccine must elicit antibodies that wil neutralize the virus. The HIV Envelope protein (Env) is the only target for neutralizing antibodies and this protein is highly unstable. In an HIV infection, functional Env trimer is almost always expressed in the presence of other non-functional forms, which distracts the antibody response from the important target. Vaccine designers have been able to engineer a stable, functional Env trimer and in order to develop an effective vaccine there is an urgent need to design a stable soluble Env trimer that mimics the functional molecule.


Working closely with IAVI scientists, NineSigma recommeded, drafted and disseminated a Request for Proposal (RFP), titled "Engineering Stable Proteins." This RFP allowed NineSigma to reach out to a worldwide network of distinguished protein scientists that were previously unrelated to HIV research. As a result, more than 30 proposales were submitted from highly qualified scientists in over 14 difference countries.

Multiple Winners

NineSigma has connected IAVI with some of the world's leading biomedical researchers, and helped it identify two scientists who will receive a total of $875,000 to develop solutions for generating stable protein complexes for use in AIDS vaccines. Those whose proposales have been selected for funding or further collaboration include Dr. Rogier Sanders, Academic Medical Center, Medical Microbiology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Regensburg Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Regensburg, Germany.

"We are confident that the researchers [NineSigma] helped identify have much to contribute to the development of an effective AIDS vaccine." - Wayne Koff, Chief Scientific Officer, IAVI

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