Affinivax Appoints Kara Bickham, MD, as Chief Medical Officer

Infectious disease clinician with experience leading the clinical development of a pneumococcal vaccine brings key skills and expertise to advance MAPS vaccine pipeline

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., August 9, 2021 – Affinivax, Inc. (“Affinivax”), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of a novel class of vaccines with its MAPS (Multiple Antigen Presenting System) platform, today announced that Kara Bickham, MD, has joined the company as Chief Medical Officer. She brings a wealth of relevant experience across clinical practice, academic research and vaccine development, including her most recent role leading the clinical development of Vaxneuvance, a 15-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine being developed by Merck & Co., Inc. for the prevention of Streptococcus pneumoniae in infants and children. Dr. Bickham will have an immediate impact on the development of Affinivax’s pneumococcal vaccine program – including its 24-valent vaccine currently in Phase 2 clinical trials and its next generation pneumococcal vaccine currently advancing toward clinical testing – as well as its pipeline of MAPS vaccine candidates targeting additional novel and resistant infectious diseases.

“We are delighted to welcome Kara to our senior leadership team at Affinivax,” said Steven Brugger, Chief Executive Officer of Affinivax. “Kara’s clinical background and demonstrated successful leadership of a global clinical vaccine program targeting Streptococcus pneumoniae is perfectly suited to our current activities at Affinivax as we advance our development capabilities and MAPS pipeline. We look forward to her contribution and her passion on our leadership team.”

“I am so very excited to join Affinivax in this important role for the company,” said Dr. Bickham. “I have carefully watched the advancement of the novel MAPS technology and am very impressed with the recent clinical data presented on Affinivax’s 24-valent pneumococcal vaccine. The company has the potential to have a significant impact in the development of vaccines targeting many different infectious diseases impacting global health, and I look forward to contributing to the Affinivax success story.”

Kara Bickham brings over 20 years of infectious disease clinical and vaccine development industry experience to Affinivax. She most recently served as the Program Lead for the pediatric clinical program for Vaxneuvance, Merck’s 15-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. In this role, she led a large cross-functional team which was responsible for 13 clinical trials, enrolling more than 12,000 participants, across more than 30 countries. Dr. Bickham also was a key clinical team member for the adult clinical program for Vaxneuvance, and also served as the Program Lead for Zostavax, the first vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older. Prior to joining Merck, she held research positions at the Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University and the Ralph M. Steinman Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology at The Rockefeller University. She began her clinical career in pediatric infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College. She holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from Texas Christian University and an M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

About Affinivax, Inc.

Affinivax is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of a novel class of vaccines designed to induce a broad and robust protective immune response to both disease-relevant polysaccharides and disease-relevant proteins in a single vaccine. Affinivax designs each of its vaccine candidates to optimize the protective immune response to one or both of these antigens utilizing the distinctive plug-and-play nature of its proprietary MAPS platform technology, presenting the potential opportunity to make a significant step forward in addressing major healthcare challenges posed by novel and resistant infectious diseases. Affinivax was founded in 2014 with a seed investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and an exclusive license to the MAPS technology from Boston Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit

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Kathryn Morris, The Yates Network


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