Mark Challberg, PhD

Mark Challberg, PhD
Program Director, Flavivirus Research
Virology Branch
Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Mark Challberg is a Program Officer in the Virology branch, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) at the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Dr. Challberg has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also did post-doctoral training in the field of viral DNA replication. From 1981 to 1985 he was a member of the faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine, where he continued his research on adenovirus DNA replication. In 1985 Dr. Challberg moved to the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the NIH, where, as the Chief of the Macromolecular Biology Section, he directed a research program on herpesvirus DNA replication until 2002, when he moved to his present position. Until recently, Dr. Challberg managed a portfolio of grants related to research on poxviruses and herpesviruses; he currently manages the grant portfolio related to flavivirses and provides technical expertise to NIAID-supported efforts in the development of new therapies and vaccines these viruses.

Zika Vaccine Development: Starting from Scratch

The recent epidemics of Zika virus infection in South and Central America have caused international concern because infection of pregnant women can cause miscarriage and serious birth defects, including microcephaly. In rare cases, Zika virus infection in adults may also lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome. At the onset of the epidemic no Zika virus vaccine existed nor were any under development but clearly a vaccine is urgently needed. Vaccines for other flaviviruses have been developed and used for over 70 years and active development programs for Dengue and West Nile vaccines have been ongoing for over 30 years; this past experience is being leveraged for ZIKV vaccine development. Zika vaccine R&D efforts have been accelerated greatly by the establishment of a coordinated, interagency portfolio management team including NIAID, WRAIR, BARDA, CDC and FDA. These development efforts include multiple vaccine platforms, including live-attenuated, inactivated whole virus, protein subunit, DNA, and RNA vaccines.