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Vaccine Technology Pioneer Comes to UTA

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Vaccine Technology Pioneer Comes to UTA

Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 6:55 pm | Updated: 1:20 pm, Fri Nov 2, 2012.

Alumnus John Clements helped pioneer a vaccination technology that would help millions of children around the world.

Clements, Tulane University professor and Microbiology and Immunology chairman, returned to UTA after 48 years to discuss his vaccination research Thursday afternoon with a Freshman Interest Group, or FIG, class on campus as part of the College of Science’s Science Week. 

The technology includes different methods of taking the vaccine. One such method is using sublingual strips that can be absorbed under the tongue, Clements said. Traditionally, vaccinations require a syringe and a needle, which could be more expensive for people in developing countries. Tulane University donated their vaccine technology to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization which deals with vaccine distribution and helps people to live healthy lives.

Before attending UTA, Clements joined the Marines with a passion to serve his country in the Vietnam War. After becoming a lieutenant officer, the war veteran wanted to enroll in UTA to fulfill his academic goal. He praised UTA students because he, just as many students today, went through the rigors of higher education while working 40 hours a week to support himself through college.

“It was humble of him to come back to his roots at UTA after going so far in his career,” said Andrew Schroeder, FIG peer academic leader.

When nursing freshman Taylor Evans came to know about Clements' donation from his FIG class, Evans said he thought highly of the UTA alumnus.

“He seems like a very humble person. It shows that there actually are really people out there that aren’t just in it for the money that actually want to help people. I thought it was really cool he was able to do that and make a big impact when he could have made a huge gain off it,” Evans said.

According to Clements, the problem of vaccines reaching developing countries around the world include three main factors. Vaccines that work well in the U.S. might not work at the same rate in developing countries, the cost of exporting vaccinations is high and there is no economic incentive for private companies to invest resources to carry the vaccinations.

“It’s not about glory,” Clements said. No one at Tulane University makes royalties off of the creation of the vaccine technology, Clements said.


Courtesy of TheShorthorn

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