As director of the Jenner institute
, Hill is creating a well-crafted “potion” of ingredients which, when combined inside a vaccine, could prepare our immune system to attack biological invaders.
His formulation could one day form the foundation to protect humans from a range of diseases including malaria in Kenya, HIV and tuberculosis.
It’s being harnessed to design a new class of vaccine, unlike any other in use today, with an end goal of disease elimination.
“This is being assessed widely for use in cancer, Hepatitis C, and we’ve used it in Ebola and HIV,” says Hill. “There are 8 different diseases where [this] approach is in clinical trial.”
Not all of these trials are being led by Hill, but he has pioneered the protocol for testing these vaccines in humans — not just mice or monkeys like many before him.
He trialled Ebola vaccines
during the 2014 epidemic and his institute has one in development for Zika
However, his desire to create vaccines began with a wish to stop one particular disease — malaria.
As a young medical student, aged 20, Hill had visited his uncle in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was shocked by the health issues there. Zimbabwe like many African countries are attacked by these diseases. Malaria in Kenya is one of those deadly diseases.
“Not only was there a huge amount of disease and very little medical care, but also a war,” says Hill. As he traveled around the African continent for research in subsequent years, he saw the true extent of the malaria epidemic.
“I was really overwhelmed by the scale of the problem,” says Hill. “It became clear to me that what the world needed was a vaccine against malaria.”
End Malaria in Kenya now and stave off an epidemic that is decimating a population.