IDCRC Investigator Profile: Scott McClelland, MD


Scott McClelland, MD, is a professor of medicine (infectious disease), epidemiology, and global health at the University of Washington. He is a co-PI of the University of Washington Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), together with Anna Wald, MD. Dr. McClelland is the founding Director of the Pwani Research Centre, a University of Nairobi and University of Washington collaborative infectious disease research field site in Mombasa, Kenya. He has conducted research focused on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) for 25 years. His work includes clinical trials, translational studies, and implementation research.

How long have you worked with a VTEU?

This is the first cycle for the University of Washington Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, so my involvement started with the award of our VTEU parent grant in December 2019. I had previously been an investigator in the Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinical Trials Group (STI CTG). The incorporation of the STI CTG research portfolio into the VTEU’s research objectives provided both an opportunity and incentive to become a VTEU Multiple Principal Investigator (MPI).

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

Our VTEU has been a site in the Novavax Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial, the Gritstone Phase 1 trial, the Mix-and-Match trial, COVAIL, and the Sanofi Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial. We are also preparing for implementation of the Phase 4 Doxy short course trial and the Phase 1 LARC-2 trial of a late-arresting, replication competent malaria vaccine candidate. I have served as site PI for the Novavax trial in Seattle/Bellingham and the Sanofi trial in Mombasa, Kenya. I’m also looking forward to serving as site PI for the Doxy short course study in Mombasa. Learn more about IDCRC Studies

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

The Novavax and Sanofi trials have provided unique opportunities that have been highlights of my work since the launch of our VTEU. In the Novavax trial, we established a satellite site at the Lummi Tribal Health Center in Bellingham, Washington to facilitate participation by members of the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe. This experience, for which I am immensely grateful, provided a unique opportunity to work with and learn from two of the Native American communities in our region. Teamwork, including a huge effort from members of my research group, staff from the Virology Research Clinic in Seattle (our main VTEU clinic), and tribal members were key to the success of the satellite site.

The Sanofi trial was our first non-STI trial and our first vaccine trial at the Pwani Research Centre (PRC). Preparation for the trial required expansion and re-organization of our clinical space, pharmacy, laboratory, and staff. This was an exciting opportunity to learn new skills and broaden the scope of our work. It has been gratifying to see the PRC staff grow, learn, and overcome challenges in implementing this trial.

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

The role of the IDCRC in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of the network. I felt fortunate to be involved. Having become a VTEU MPI because of my interest in STI clinical trials, I felt fortunate to be given the opportunity to lead sites in Seattle, Bellingham, and Mombasa. I’ve also been inspired by the leadership of the respiratory pathogens researchers in the IDCRC.

What do you like to do outside of the VTEU?

I enjoy my research outside of the VTEU, which includes clinical trials and translational studies to understand the role of vaginal health in shaping women’s susceptibility to HIV and STIs. I also enjoy leading research that employs innovative trial designs to test implementation strategies aimed at improving HIV and STI treatment and prevention outcomes for women in low and middle-income countries. Outside of work, I enjoy outdoor sports with my wife and two kids, including hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, and fly fishing.