Regina Dugan (Leap)

Ex-DARPA chief Regi­na Dugan, for­mer Il­lu­mi­na CEO Jay Flat­ley lead $300M Well­come Trust fund to tack­le glob­al health's Sput­nik mo­ment

In a locked-down world where vac­cines of­fer the on­ly hope for a way out of the Covid-19 cri­sis, it’s near­ly im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine if RNA-based plat­forms — which broke records with a 60-day turn­around from time of se­quence to first dos­ing in hu­mans — aren’t around. But back in 2010, as the head of the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency, Regi­na Dugan had a de­ci­sion to make.

The idea was tempt­ing. Not on­ly did it map out a way for the body to make the anti­gen it would then im­mu­nize against, it al­so promised speed, a par­tic­u­lar­ly im­por­tant at­tribute when a pan­dem­ic strikes. The on­ly is­sue: The tech­nol­o­gy had not re­al­ly been val­i­dat­ed.

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