Pierluigi Petrone is the first Italian and the first European in the Board Of Direction of the Global Virus Network.
The presence of Petrone, CEO of Petrone Group, within the Global Virus Network (GVN) Board of Directors, has been formalized during the International Meeting Pioneers in infectious Agents and Cancers (Bob Gallo’s 80 birthday anniversary) held in Naples on March 22.

Pierluigi Petrone, CEO of Petrone Group

The presence of Petrone in the Board, with the role of business and financial support in the manufacturing at a global level, will strengthen the relation between science and industry, in the effort of answering to a common question, that is to ensure everybody’s health.
Besides Petrone, Lawrence Blatt (global responsible for infectious diseases at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, President and CEO Alios Biopharma), Danny Wronf (Medisun founder and President), Guy Vernet (Scientific Director of Mérieux Foundation), Guangqi Tian (President of Sino Invest Group Limited), Koici Yamanishi (Dg Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases, Osaka Univers ity) and Peter Palese (Microbiology Professor at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine), will all be part of the Board, too.

The Global Virus Network was born in 2011: can you tell us what it is and which objective and mission it has?
The GVN is a global network of worldwide experts of viral infections, formed by academics, researchers as well as finance and drug industry representatives. Born in 2011, it has been co-founded by Robert Gallo, GVN Director and co-discover of HIV virus, with the objective of preventing the diffusion and the deaths from viral diseases. GVN accomplishes its mission of strengthening the medical research in that sector, taking action on three fields: support to the vanguard research, public education, advocacy.

You recently entered the GVN Board of Directors. Why did you join it?
In the last few years I had the honor and the pleasure of traveling a lot, getting close to American world, where the concept of research and development is more rooted than it is in Europe. More than willing to join the GVN, I have been welcomed. I personally met Bob Gallo, a person and a scientist of substance; I also met many other GVN members, who proved to be very collaborative. I think they all saw in me the right intermediary between science and industry and I will try to strengthen and implement this link among research, production and development.

What could it mean for Italy to have you in the Board of Directors of such an important Network?
To begin with, let me say that as an Italian I am very proud of being part of that Board and so, of representing our country. The task of GVN is to understand the opportunities that our academic and scientific world have in order to face the problems linked to the viral infections, some of them bringing to pathologies that are less studied and less dealt with than others.

We must, instead, try to focus on these, let’s say, “orphan” pathologies:  the task of GVN, which I fully share, is the one of spreading culture and raise awareness also in the world of industry about the importance of focusing and investigating in these niche areas. This is, above all, an ethical duty but also a way for the business companies to find a margin; and this is my role in the Board. Indeed, all the ideas that are in the world of research, are precious if they find a path of feasibility in the pharmaceutical manufacturing area. The mission of the new Board is exactly to create a bridge, a trait d’union, between the discoveries coming from the scientific research and the industrial and productive sector.

The GVN is a global network of worldwide experts of viral infections

Moreover, as a European, I would like to spend the American guide lines and researches in the Old Continent too, in order to push Europe to innovate in such direction. I will put all my attention and my availability to find, case by case, any enterprises interested in developing a common and reciprocal path on the bases of the guide lines.

Robert Gallo has announced that he wants to expand the GVN collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry too. Do you already have some ideas you could anticipate and present to the Administration Board in order to push the biomedical research in the virological field?
My first objective, now, is to learn and understand more about the other representatives of the Board and see the ongoing projects. Afterwards I will try to give an enterprise character and make money with the results of the research, in a business perspective. Anyway, I want to highlight that the representatives of the scientific world must be a point of reference, in many countries, to establish the guide lines to prevent, rather than to cure, the diffusion of some infections.

The new National Vaccine Plan now launched by the Health Ministry, introduces some novelties in support of a wider vaccination coverage. Does GVN want to increase its knowledge in this field, too?
In my opinion, one of the most interesting aspects of GVN activity is the one of sensitizing, on site too, the local medicine and enacting, widening or starting prevention courses. As an example, I am talking about a place where an outbreak of epidemic is developing but also countries where vaccinations are decreasing. I would like to highlight the alarming data spread in Italy in these days about the drop in vaccinations and the consequent increase of registered cases of measles. Here is one of the fields in which the formation and the information can and must make the difference: to let everybody know the real potentialities of the available products, as in this case vaccines, through a communication accredited by the value of the experts who are part of the network and who guarantee reliability and excellence.