IDCRC Investigator Profile: Evan Anderson, MD

Evan Anderson, MD is a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and attending physician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Anderson's initial research focused on rotavirus infections of adults and is now focused on respiratory infections in adults (e.g., RSV, influenza, COVID) and vaccines and vaccine clinical trials. He serves on the IDCRC respiratory infections Expert Working Group.

How long have you worked with a VTEU?  

I was recruited by Paul Spearman, MD to join the Emory Vaccine & Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) in 2012 from Northwestern University. I was recruited to step into the shoes of one of the original Emory VTEU PIs, Harry Keyserling, MD, who was retiring after conducting clinical trials for 30 years. He had conducted at least one study on all the routine vaccines in the childhood vaccination schedule. During my years of training and while at Northwestern as a junior faculty member, I had dreamed of getting to work in a VTEU. I now have the privilege to serve as a multiple PI of the Emory VTEU along with my colleagues Carlos del Rio, MD and Nadine Rouphael, MD.

Briefly describe the IDCRC-supported trials you’ve worked on

I worked on DMID 20-0003 (Phase I Moderna), DMID 21-0002 (late boost of 20-0003 participants and naïve individuals receiving viral variant vaccine), DMID 21-0012 (Mix N Match), DMID 20-0006 (ACTT study – supporting Nadine Rouphael, Aneesh Mehta, MD and the VTEU’s Hope Clinic in recruiting and enrolling hospitalized adults for ACTT). We have conducted the Phase III Moderna (COVE) and Phase III Janssen studies (ENSEMBLE), and now are enrolling actively into the Moderna pediatric study of vaccine in children <12 years of age (KidCOVE)Learn more about IDCRC Studies

I’ve worked on vaccine and therapeutic studies from A to Z over the years in the VTEU: anthrax, avian influenza vaccines (e.g., H3N2v, H7N9, H5N8), chikungunya, Ebola, hepatitis E, influenza, MVA (IMVAMUNE), norovirus, osteomyelitis, the ‘omics of response to vaccination, rotavirus, RSV, Staphylococcus aureus, tularemia, and Zika. It has been quite an experience!

Of these trials, what has been the most impactful or highlight of the work?

In many ways, I think DMID 20-0003, the Phase I trial of the Moderna mRNA-1273, best highlights this work. Emory was added to help support Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH and the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (VTEU). At that time Seattle was the known epicenter of U.S. COVID-19 cases. We were able to rapidly open our site, recruit, enroll, and vaccinate participants. It was incredibly stressful work trying to rapidly help generate the data that would allow the Phase II and III studies to be conducted. The whole world seemed to be watching. We have seen this initial Phase I study continue to morph (beginning to administer boost doses back in March) to answer new questions. In addition to providing critical information about the dose, reactogenicity, and safety of mRNA-1273, it continues to provide critical data about the durability of the immune responses as well as the breadth of these responses against emerging variants. This study highlights the strength of the VTEUs by providing a very rapid response to emerging pathogens. It also highlights the capacity of the VTEUs to take samples from these clinical trials and go back to the bench to address new questions. Everything has gotten very distorted by the pandemic and I often feel like I’m in the middle of one of Picasso’s paintings.

What is a strength or example of the importance of the IDCRC during the pandemic and beyond?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly challenging. Similar to the DMID 20-0003, the IDCRC has been flexible to address the next critical questions in the COVID pandemic. When we think about the key questions of the COVID-pandemic, the IDCRC has been at the forefront answering these questions with data. For example, answering the questions about the best treatments for COVID-19 infected patients (e.g., ACTT studies), advancement of potential vaccine candidates through clinical trials (e.g., Moderna Phase I, multiple Phase III clinical trials), durability of responses after vaccination (e.g., Moderna Phase I data), and cross-protective ability of vaccination to cover viral variants (e.g., Moderna Phase I, DMID 21-0002, 21-0012).