University of Rhode Island experts available to discuss paths to vaccine

Media Contact: Dawn Bergantino, 401-874-4147 |

KINGSTON, R.I. – Nov. 25, 2020 –With news of one or more effective COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon and the recent announcement that Rhode Island will serve as a pilot site for Pfizer’s vaccine rollout, the following University of Rhode Island experts are available to discuss the path to a vaccine – or how a vaccine is developed, delivered and distributed:

Research Professor Dr. Alan Rothman leads the University of Rhode Island’s Laboratory of Viral Immunity and Pathogenesis. For more than 30 years, Rothman has been researching the immunity and pathogenesis of viral diseases in humans – specifically dengue fever, which infects more than 400 million people in more than 100 countries around the world each year. Rothman can speak to the research and development phase of a vaccine and what it takes to get an effective vaccine to market.

Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management Koray Özpolat, has expertise in humanitarian logistics and disaster relief. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D., Özpolat worked as a logistics systems analyst for the United Nations where he came to appreciate the importance of efficient supply chains and their impact – especially in delivering humanitarian relief. Among other issues, he can discuss the role of supply chains in sourcing, manufacturing and distributing a vaccine.

Professor of Pharmacy Kerry LaPlante is an infectious disease expert who was recently named to serve on the COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee to Rhode Island’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. The sole purpose of the subcommittee is to plan for a COVID-19 vaccine, including developing an independent process for evaluating safety and efficacy as well as advising on how to prioritize distribution. LaPlante also serves as the director of the Rhode Island Infectious Diseases Fellowship and Research Programs at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Providence. She can speak to determining vaccine safety and efficacy as well as the process of ensuring equitable distribution.

Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Virginia Lemay works with pharmacy students in community pharmacy and ambulatory care-based clinical rotations. Part of this involves not only educating her students, but empowering her students to work with their patients and educate them on topics such as medication therapy management, adult and pediatric immunizations and chronic health conditions. Among other things, Lemay can speak to public health initiatives, patient education and vaccine hesitancy.