2024 Derek Horton Award Winner – Dr.Andrew Lees

CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. Andrew Lees ON RECEIVING THE 2024 Derek Horton Award for Outstanding Contribution to industrial carbohydrate chemistry!

Dr. Andrew Lees is the founder and CEO of Fina Biosolutions, LLC (Rockville, MD), a company focused on promoting affordable conjugate vaccines, a class which includes vaccines for S. pneumoniae and meningococcal disease. Among his contributions to the field, Dr. Lees developed CDAP chemistry for activating carbohydrate hydroxyls, allowing for the efficient linking of proteins to polysaccharides. The chemistry has helped to reduce the cost of these vaccines as proteins can be directly coupled to CDAP-activated polysaccharides, eliminating many manufacturing steps. CDAP has largely replaced the older cyanogen bromide method and is now widely used in conjugate vaccines. CDAP chemistry also scales more easily than other conjugation chemistries and has enabled the manufacture of the Serum Institute of India’s low-cost pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines, Pneumosil® and MenFive®, respectively.

At Fina Biosolutions, Dr. Lees also introduced a low-cost version of CRM197, a genetically detoxified diphtheria toxin commonly used as the protein component of protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines, increasing access to the protein for both basic research and vaccine manufacturers.

Before starting Fina Biosolutions in 2006, Dr. Lees was Director of Vaccine Development at biotech companies Virion Systems, Inc (1993-1999) and Biosynexus, Inc (1999-2006). He was also an associate research professor at the Uniformed Services University (1993-1999). Andrew is now an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development, the Uniformed Services University, Dept. of Medicine, and the University of Toledo, Dept of Chemistry. He has over 75 publications and 25 patents, primarily in the subject area of conjugate vaccines.   He received his BS in chemistry from Harvey Mudd College in chemistry (1976) and his Ph.D. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins (1984). Honors include the Uniformed Services Meritorious Service Award, the Harvey Mudd College Outstanding Alumni Award, and the Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumnus Award. On graduating from Hopkins, he was on the cover of Baltimore Magazine as one of “84 people to watch in ‘84” due to his role as a leading Baltimore area magician. 

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