IDCRC Investigator Profile: Sharon Frey, MD


Sharon Frey, M.D., Kinsella Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine, is the Associate Director of Clinical Research, Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine, and the Clinical Director, Center for Vaccine Development. She serves on the IDCRC Coronavirus, Enteric, and Monkeypox Expert Working Groups.

How long have you worked with a VTEU?

My career in vaccinology started when I transferred to Saint Louis University (SLU) to complete a final year of Infectious Diseases Fellowship. At that time, we had a VTEU and an AVEU (renamed HVTU). Fortunately for me, Dr. Robert Belshe was the Infectious Diseases Division director, and I was embraced as a potential young investigator by the entire Infectious Diseases division to whom I am forever thankful. Currently, I serve as the co-PI for the Saint Louis University VTEU Cooperative Agreement and as the Clinical Director for the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development.

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

The transformation of the VTEUs over the years to the current IDCRC has been a particularly interesting journey full of bends in the road, and then there was COVID-19! I serve as a site PI for both the Moderna and Janssen phase 3 SARS-CoV-2 trials and the phase 2 DMID COVAIL trial, and as a co-investigator on the DMID Gritstone trial. Relief from COVID-19 came in the form of monkeypox. Once again, the VTEUs were on the forefront of a global health emergency utilizing expertise gained during the conduct of the NIH-sponsored smallpox vaccine trials. I currently serve as the lead chair of the Phase 2 Randomized, Open-Label, Multisite Trial to Evaluate the Immunogenicity of Dose Reduction Strategies of the MVA-BN Vaccine  DMID 2020-0020. All IDCRC Studies 

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

The phase 3 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials required a massive collaborative effort involving governments, pharmaceuticals, VTEUs, other NIH-sponsored vaccine units, and hundreds of other national and international sites. COVID-19 was all-consuming professionally and otherwise, fodder for the history books and prose. The vaccine trial response to the monkeypox outbreak demonstrates the VTEUs’ ability to respond quickly to threats of bioterrorism and emerging infections.

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

The best way to highlight the strength and importance of the IDCRC is to recognize the outstanding investigators who make up the leadership teams at all levels of participation, as well as the amazing individuals who comprise the VTEU teams and provide boots on the ground. The measure of science, collaboration, mutual support, and camaraderie within the network is unsurpassed. In the spirit of continuity and success, it is important to note that the IDCRC is mentoring next generations investigators.

What do you like to do outside of the VTEU?

Professionally, I serve as the Chair of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network Safety Monitoring Board and have been fortunate to serve on Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. My volunteer work has included serving as the medical director for SLU’s student-run free clinic and participating in humanitarian aid trips in war-torn areas. The hobbies that keep me the busiest are racing a vintage formula continental on road courses and exercising my motorcycle.