Dr. Christopher Fox (B.S., 2003) began his career in the biomedical industry with a degree from USU BE. Fox holds the position of Director of Formulations with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), a non-profit biotech organization that develops and designs diagnostics, vaccines, and drugs, located in Seattle, Wash.
As Director of Formulations, Fox works with vaccine adjuvant formulations. An adjuvant makes a vaccine more potent by boosting the body’s immune response to the vaccine. Fox’s responsibilities involve developing adjuvants and monitoring their stability. He began his work on adjuvant formulations during post-doctoral research with IDRI in 2007.
According to Fox, vaccine adjuvants are difficult to access from pharmaceutical companies due to intellectual property restrictions. One of IDRI’s goals is to act as a clearinghouse to provide adjuvants to other institutes around the world. “We’re trying to allow developing countries and other companies to access adjuvants so they can move forward their vaccine programs,” Fox said. “Modern vaccines are very dependent on effective adjuvants.”
One of his team’s greatest accomplishments has been developing safe and effective formulations that are currently in clinical trials. “These are for diseases that don’t get a lot of attention and funding,” Fox said. “We’re really filling a gap by focusing on these.”
IDRI also participates in technology transfers, teaching institutes and companies in developing areas how to produce their own vaccines and adjuvants, with the goal of self-sufficiency. “We’re enabling them to make their own vaccines…for instance, if there’s a pandemic of influenza again, [developing nations] wouldn’t be reliant on rich countries to make vaccines to cover their populations. We’re proud of that too,” Fox said.
As an undergraduate biological engineering student, Fox worked in Dr. David Britt’s lab, setting up equipment and acquiring materials. His research with Dr. Britt was focused on surface modifications of biomaterials to make them more biocompatible. After graduating from USU with his bachelor’s degree, Fox earned his PhD in bioengineering from the University of Utah.
Fox is from Logan, Utah, and decided that USU’s biological engineering program was a good fit for him because of the focus on applied uses for engineering. “I felt like bioengineering was sort of the marriage between a healthcare career and a research engineering career,” Fox said. “I wanted something that was applied and could help people.”