EAVI2020 Students in Focus: Ehsan Suleiman (Polymun Scientific, Austria)
Time to meet: Ehsan Suleiman
I am an employee of Polymun Scientific and a PhD student of Biomolecular Technology of Proteins (BioToP) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria. I have been involved in the development of readily scalable approaches for the manufacturing of liposomes-based vaccines against HIV-1 for almost five years now. In a collaborative effort with scientists at the Institute of Clinical and Molecular Virology at the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen we have been able to advance a novel vaccine platform from the early stage of conceptualization to first in vivo trials.
Being part of the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative 2020 and working on a project at the interface of academia and industry has been a unique and rewarding experience. Working in this setting has placed me between the poles of basic research, clinical research and the biopharmaceutical industry. This has given me the opportunity to experience vaccine development from these different perspectives and to develop my roles as communicator and mediator. The last years have made me recognize the complexity of HIV/AIDS and have made me internalize the fact that ending this devastating pandemic is not merely a scientific or technical challenge. It is a socio-economic, social, political and logistical challenge that requires the active inclusion/participation of affected people and the establishment of cross-functional collaborations for it to be overcome. It is a challenge that will require agents like scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, policy and decisionmakers to critically reflect on their privileges, their approaches and their responsibility to create tangible impact in order to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
I am currently in my final year and in the process of writing up my doctoral thesis. When I am not in the lab or at the office I love to cook, politicise, socialise, work out or share quality time with my dearest and nearest. So far, I have not decided on what exactly to do next in my career. What I know for sure is that I would love to share all the lessons I have learned as a young researcher in the last years and that I would like to continue to be part of a bold, impact-generating, international consortium such as the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative 2020.