Prof. Richard Malley is the Kenneth Macintosh Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he has been an active clinician-scientist, mentor, and educator for over 20 years.
Some of his early work helped to identify clinical algorithms to predict bacterial meningitis. Later and ever since, the bulk of his work has been in the laboratory. Some of his early reseearch defined innate immune interactions of pneumococcal components such as pneumolysin with Toll-like receptor 4 and the Type 1 pilus with Toll-like receptor 2. His work with Porter Anderson and others on the immune response to a killed, unencapsulated, adjuvanted whole cell vaccine in animal models led him to discover the pivotal role of tissue-resident, CD4+ Th17 cells in immunity to pneumococcal colonization and later to staphylococcal skin and soft-tissue infections. His lab demonstrated how these Th17 cells work in a way complementary to humoral immunity: they work even in the absence of antibodies, but depend on complement and on the recruitment of neutrophils to kill bacteria, and they shorten the duration of carriage rather than preventing its establishment. The whole-cell vaccine has been studied and continues to be studied in clinical trials. He is also the inventor of a new vaccine technology, called the Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS), which he applied to several pathogens, including pneumococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, Group B Streptococcus, Salmonella/Shigella, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. He co-founded a vaccine company, Affinivax, which was recently acquired by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). He is a named inventor on 20 patent families that total 188 patents worldwide. His innovative approaches, combining molecular microbiology, immunology, animal models, and clinical trials, have provided a novel strategy to develop vaccines for diseases of both the developed and developing world. The latter is an essential part of Prof. Malley’s efforts, which have always been directed toward finding ways to make vaccines that can protect children around the world.
He has also mentored a generation of investigators in microbiology, pediatric infectious diseases, and vaccinology. One of his many collaborators, Marc Lipsitch, who regrets very much missing this ISPPD, writes: “Talking science and dreaming up experiments with Rick is a joy, and it’s inspiring to watch him work to develop products that can improve the health of children everywhere, regardless of their circumstances. Rick is someone who’s really found a path to doing work that is intellectually stimulating, fun, and good for the world.”