The people behind vaccine research

A letter from LJI Professor, President, and CEO Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., MBA
Profile photo of LJI Professor, President, and CEO Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., MBA
LJI Professor, President & CEO Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., MBA

Recent months have come with exciting developments at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI). In this issue of Immune Matters, you’ll meet our newest faculty member (and computational biologist extraordinaire), Assistant Professor Tal Einav, Ph.D. You’ll also learn how LJI Professor Shane Crotty, Ph.D., will strengthen our mission in his new role as LJI Chief Scientific Officer. It’s been a pleasure to welcome Dr. Einav to our Institute, and I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Crotty to build LJI’s future.

Drs. Einav and Crotty are just two LJI faculty members leading cutting-edge vaccine research. In this issue’s cover story, you’ll learn how LJI experts, including Professors Sujan Shresta, Ph.D., Alessandro Sette, Dr.Biol.Sci., and Research Assistant Professor Daniela Weiskopf, Ph.D., are using new scientific tools to develop vaccines against deadly pathogens. [Read “Delivering Better Vaccines”]

Immune system research affects all of us, but vaccine science feels especially personal. After all, LJI scientists don’t just work in the San Diego community—we are the community. We want our kids and store clerks, our parents and Padres to receive the safest, most effective vaccines possible.

Community just means more since the start of the pandemic. My colleagues cheer for each other at softball games and graduation ceremonies. We run out for champagne when a new study is published. LJI folks will even brave summer heat for the sake of community! In July, LJI representatives marched in the San Diego Pride Parade and did the Institute proud in the Pride 5K Run + Walk.

It’s also exciting to see our community of Institute supporters grow. I appreciate every chance to meet new visitors on campus and catch up with good friends at Institute events.

Donor support has also helped us make new connections with the community we love. In the last few years, we’ve expanded our internship programs, organized LJI field trips for local students, and provided hands-on STEM activities at events such as the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.

We can’t lose these human connections yet again. Vaccine research gives us hope—hope that we’ll continue to find ways to come together.


Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., MBA

LJI Professor, President, and CEO
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Delivering better vaccines: Scientists at La Jolla Institute push for more effective, longer-lasting vaccines

“Vaccines are incredible,” says Shane Crotty, Ph.D., Professor and Chief Scientific Officer at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI). “They are the only medicine recommended for every healthy person on the planet.” Dr. Crotty and his colleagues recently launched the LJI Center for Vaccine Innovation. This center is home to researchers with the expertise to shape the future of vaccine design.