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Stories that inspired us in 2022

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Stories that inspired us in 2022

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About 16 years ago, Sergey Menis, now a senior startup solution architect with AWS, was volunteering at a protein design lab during the day and parking cars at night. He’d come to the Baker Lab in Seattle on a whim. While earning his master’s degree in bioinformatics at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, he read a 2003 paper describing the lab’s work designing a novel protein that didn’t exist in nature.

Sergey Menis said when he read about David Baker’s work in inventing a protein molecule from scratch, the next chapter of his career — computational protein design — began to unfold.

Courtesy of Sergey Menis

“I was just in awe of that power,” Menis recalled. He wanted to learn more about biochemist David Baker’s work and emailed asking to join the lab, which is based at the University of Washington. Once there, he opted to work with Bill Schief, a postdoctoral researcher with Baker who was just starting his own lab.

Schief and his team, along with Menis, developed a breakthrough approach to a vaccine for HIV. In February 2021, the nonprofit scientific research organizations IAVI and Scripps Research announced exciting results in a phase 1 clinical trial — called IAVI G001 — of the Schief lab’s vaccine candidate.

Earlier this year, building on those results, IAVI and Moderna announced that first doses had been administered in a new clinical trial of the experimental HIV vaccine.

Learn about the role Menis played in helping bring the world closer to a human immunodeficiency virus vaccine.



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