Scientific and Clinical Advisors
Barbara Rath, MD PhD is a board-certified pediatric consultant and infectious disease specialist with 20 years’ experience in clinical trials, public health and virology in the US, Latin America and Europe. Dr. Rath’s recent research focuses on vaccine safety/communication and the quest for a personalized approach to managing acute infections in children.
Dr. Rath is co-founder and chair of the Vienna Vaccine Safety Initiative (VVSI), an international think tank and non-profit-organization focused on new avenues for the treatment, communication and prevention of infectious diseases. Under her leadership, VVSI developed a mobile application in 2015/16—during the peak of refugee arrivals in Berlin—that allowed young refugees to self-report in real time their health needs securely and anonymously. The tool was based on a survey instrument she had encountered while providing urgent care services to 18,000 evacuees in Lafayette, LA, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. housing up to 18’000 evacuees. In conjunction with the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, Dr. Rath has also developed innovative, real-time surveillance and quality improvement programs for the monitoring of acute infections with epi/pandemic potential.
In addition to her work with VVSI, Dr. Rath also chairs the Epidemiology Group and is an ex officio board member of the International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases (ISIRV) . She also serves on the board for the respiratory virus study group of the European Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. She is a founding member of the Monarch Collaboration, an international consortium to Improving the Health of Migrant and Refugee Populations through Immunization and in 2018, she completed the Global Pediatrics Leadership Program at Harvard University Medical School. In 2018 she was also appointed as an honorary professor at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, UK.
Dr. Rath received her medical school education in Germany, the United States and Spain, and her doctoral degrees from the University of Basel, Switzerland and the University of Besançon, France. In addition to a post-doctoral fellowship at the Stanford Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases & Geographic Medicine, she has received pediatric residency and infectious disease subspecialty training at Duke and Tulane Universities, USA.
Robert Finberg, MD is a physician scientist specializing in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. His clinical expertise is in the treatment of infections in patients with cancer and transplant recipients. He has experience as both a clinician who cares for patients with serious infections and as a research scientist who has studied the role of host responses to infection. Dr. Finberg worked at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital from the completion of his training in 1980, where he was promoted to Professor of Medicine. In 1999, he joined the University of Massachusetts as the Chair of the Department of Medicine, a position he held until 2019.
Dr. Finberg’s career has focused on studies that define the interactions between viruses and mammalian hosts. His initial training was in virology (reoviruses) with Dr. B.N. Fields, and cellular immunity with Dr. Baruj Benacerraf. In recent years, work in Dr. Finberg’s laboratory has demonstrated the role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the innate immune response to viruses. He identified the receptor for Coxsackie and adenoviruses (CAR) and is currently working on defining receptors for other picornaviruses. He has also worked on the pathogenesis and the development of the host immune response to respiratory viruses, in particular, influenza A virus (IAV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). He is currently conducting drug trials for COVID-19 and studying the host response to SARS-CoV-2. His clinical interests include new approaches to healthcare delivery, ensuring wellness and preventing disease, and treatment of infections in immunocompromised patients.
Dr. Finberg received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and did his internal medicine training at Bellevue Hospital in New York and his fellowship in Pathology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He has published over 200 peer reviewed papers, and his research has received continuous support from the NIH and other funding agencies for over 35 years. Dr. Finberg serves on multiple editorial boards and scientific advisory boards.
Jeffrey Gelfand, MD is a Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has over 40 years of experience in both research and clinical care. His laboratory and clinical research spans immunology, inflammation and infection, while he developed a specialty in infectious diseases and immunology, becoming a world expert in complement, fever of unknown origin, and tick-borne diseases.
His research work over the last 20 years has focused on vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. He initiated research programs on ovarian cancer, developing several vaccines and immunotherapies, as well as a laser adjuvant. Most recently he initiated funded studies on the uses of light energy as antimicrobial therapy and a strategy for overcoming antimicrobial resistance to antibiotics. At MGH he co-founded a company to develop methods to enhance immune responses to vaccines, a therapeutic vaccine targeting ovarian cancer, and a vaccine platform to enable rapid and/or personalized vaccines for cancers or infectious diseases. In 2007, Dr. Gelfand was elected a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science “for distinguished contributions to clinical immunology and vaccine development.”
During his career, Dr. Gelfand served as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine of Tufts University School of Medicine, Physician-in-Chief at Tufts-New England Medical Center, Dean for Research at Tufts University School of Medicine, Senior Vice President for Research and Technology at Tufts- New England Medical Center, and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (www.CIMIT.org), where he founded a number of programs aimed at building international collaborations and responding to emerging infectious diseases. Most recently he has worked with the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he serves as a senior scientific advisor. Dr. Gelfand has authored more than 90 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 50 chapters in leading textbooks of medicine.
Michael Mansour, MD, PhD is a physician-scientist involved in the investigation of invasive fungal diseases and host immune responses. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an attending physician on the Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Service in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Mansour’s clinical work focuses mainly on the care of solid and bone marrow transplant patients with infectious complications. In addition, he maintains a basic and translational research laboratory investigating the critical molecular mechanisms responsible for host immunity to life-threatening fungal pathogens. In recent years, he has developed expertise in the clinical treatment of human coronavirus infection, first with MERS-CoV, where he assisted the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia in care for these patients, and more recently with SARS-CoV-2, where he is an investigative clinician on a number of clinical trials to test potential therapies for COVID-19.
Dr. Mansour obtained his MD and PhD degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. His PhD focused on host response to the human pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also served as served as Chief Medical Resident after which he completed the Harvard combined Infectious Diseases fellowship.