The epic battle between infectious diseases and our quest to control and eradicate them has been ongoing for hundreds of years. From the first vaccine for smallpox discovered in the 1700s to today, preventative and therapeutic vaccine science has made great progress, transforming medicine and saving countless lives. Childhood vaccines now make at least 16 diseases preventable – and life-saving vaccine science continues to evolve. Cutting-edge technologies like mRNA vaccines, along with innovative manufacturing and delivery techniques, help to enable additional effective, safe vaccines in months rather than years as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with hundreds of vaccines in development by biopharmaceutical research companies to treat or prevent diseases like HIV, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, the battle is far from over.  

A Track Record of Experience You Can Trust

Westat has a 35-year history supporting vaccine development studies and vaccine evaluations to combat HIV, HPV, melanoma, non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, chickenpox, flu, and most recently COVID-19. Our recent work in this critical area includes a clinical trial in Brazil of HIV-infected pregnant women and their newborns that examined the safety of anti-pneumococcal vaccines administered during pregnancy. Westat experts published notable results from the study in The Lancet

Our experienced team supported establishment of a virtual network (the Virtual Network to Investigate Risk of Influenza-Associated Severe Outcomes and Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Using Integrated Medical and Public Health Records [known as VISION]). This network addresses gaps in the understanding of the risk of severe influenza virus infection, its complications, and the effectiveness of influenza vaccination. Made possible through a contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Westat serves as the VISION Data Coordinating Center in partnership with four clinical sites and the DARTNet Institute at the University of Colorado. 

Application of Expertise for Today’s Biggest Challenges

While our efforts to advance knowledge of long-standing diseases is extensive, we are always working to apply that expertise forward to emerging public health challenges. COVID-19 is perhaps the most formidable example. With millions of cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. alone, the public health burden of this virus is devastating, impacting both lives and livelihoods.  

While this battle may be a long one, Westat is already in the trenches: Leveraging our previous work on the VISION project and associated flu research, we’ve established a virtual network of healthcare systems that can assess the incidence of severe COVID-19 using integrated medical, laboratory, pharmacy, and vaccination records to examine incidence, care trajectories, vaccine effectiveness, and outcomes associated with COVID-19 illness.  

Our history in the world of vaccine research is long enough to know that we will need our best minds and most reliable expertise to solve this challenge – and we’re up to the task. 

Rescuing a Fledgling Parainfluenza Study and Seeing It Through

View Barbara Driver profile

Barbara Driver

Vice President and Clinical Operations Lead

View Deepak Khatry profile

Deepak Khatry

Associate Director and Biostatistics Lead

Lauren Laimon Westat

Lauren Laimon

Project Director