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Moore aids in research for COVID vaccine

When Ian Moore graduated from T.R. Miller High School in 1997, he had a dream for what he wanted for his life. But he had no idea his path would lead him to a place where he would have a hand in saving the world.

In February 2020, Moore was asked to join in on a project with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Vaccine Research Center in partnership with Moderna.  Accepting that position would be instrumental in developing a vaccine for COVID-19 – that path is one the Brewton native is enjoying and takes pride in accepting.
“I am humbled to be a part of the team,” Moore said. “It’s exciting to know that the work I’m doing has an immediate effect on people around the world. It’s just awesome knowing that we are creating a vaccine that will keep people alive.”

Moore is currently living in Maryland where, since 2014, he has worked at the NIH as a veterinary pathologist and head of the Infectious Disease Pathogenesis Section (IDPS), in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

After earning his veterinary medical degree from Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Moore went on to complete a combined residency/PhD program in veterinary anatomic pathology at Michigan State University and in partnership with the NIH.  He made the move to the NIH, in Maryland, to complete his dissertation research which focused on the immunology and pathogenesis of Influenza virus infection.  It was there he would find himself poised to be included in life-changing discoveries for everyone around the world.

“I was finishing my Ph.D. when I was asked to lead the lab at NIH,” Moore said. “The vaccine that is being tested now,” Moore said. “I really have enjoyed the work.  I’ve had the chance to sit in on meetings with people who have been doing this kind of work for a long time. I am glad that I was in the right place at the right time and to be a part of what is happening now is humbling.”

Under the program description on the NIH website, Dr. Moore’s job is part of a group of professionals that ‘provides molecular pathology support to NIAID investigators and programs related to research involving animal models of human disease. Our veterinary pathologists have expertise in the gross and microscopic evaluation of both spontaneous and experimental disease and provide guidance on the design, conduct, interpretation, and publication of studies involving laboratory research animals.”

Moore said that his work on the team, as a veterinary pathologist, largely relates to the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in the animal model and is this stage that lays the groundwork for the start of human clinical trials.

“My work has been to evaluate the pathology of experimental COVID-19 infections and determine if the vaccine is safe and effective in neutralizing the virus in the animal model,” Moore said. “The vaccine has to be validated in two non-human models before moving on to human clinical trials.  It’s the last step before FDA approval.”

Moore said that part of the work is among many important factors when developing a vaccine.

“We do all of that testing and research to make sure that what we take is safe,” Moore said. “Since we have now reached Phase III human clinical trials and even closer to FDA approval, the second half of the work begins with talking to people and providing information to educate people on why they should take the vaccine and why it’s important to their health and safety. I know that a lot of people have questions and are sometimes skeptical when it comes to government-produced vaccines and drugs, but this is so important and will save lives. It will help in preventing the unnecessary loss of life and will minimize the chance of this pandemic becoming endemic.”

Moore is a native of Brewton and is the son of David and Cliffie Moore.

“I don’t get home as much as I’d like,” Moore said. “But, I do miss Brewton and I hope to be able to get closer to home in the future.”

For Moore, home is where he received the encouragement from family and some of his teachers over the years. For him, that encouragement is what put him on the path to achieve his goals in life.

“Any accomplishments I have achieved are the products of a supportive family combined with a select group of teachers who went above and beyond in supporting and encouraging me throughout my time in Brewton Public Schools and even after I graduated,” Moore said. “I would like to encourage every student to make sure your confidence remains as high as your aspirations — any student can do what I have, and hopefully far more, as long as he or she believes in themselves and has the right supporting cast of educators.”