Alana Gerhardt, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Product Development and Characterization

Alana Gerhardt leads the Product Development and Characterization group at AAHI, developing thermostable vaccines for infectious diseases with a particular focus on lyophilized and spray dried formulations. In this role, Alana oversees the characterization of vaccine antigens and develops vaccine formulations to ensure that the vaccine product will remain stable from the time it’s manufactured until it’s administered to a patient. As the primary product development scientist on projects for vaccines against Ebola, leishmaniasis, Zika virus, yellow fever virus, and SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Gerhardt evaluates the physicochemical stability of vaccines based on proteins, RNA, inactivated viruses, and virus-like particles (VLPs) and develops stable vaccine formulations in liquid, frozen, and dried forms. She also works with our GMP and QC teams to transition products from lab-scale R&D production and testing to our GMP facility, tech-transferring processes and assays to enable Phase 1/2 clinical trials. Working closely with AAHI's Adjuvant Formulations, RNA vaccines, and Manufacturing teams, Dr. Gerhardt's ultimate goal is to increase vaccine access and equity across the globe. 

Dr. Gerhardt is a scientist with 12+ years of experience in formulation and product development of vaccines, biologics, and medical devices and has extensive experience in protein characterization and stability. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Dr. Gerhardt's thesis investigated the effects of different stresses on the stability of therapeutic protein formulations and proposed ways to mitigate the negative effects of these stresses. 

Dr. Gerhardt joined AAHI in 2017 where, in addition to her work on thermostable vaccines composed of inactivated viruses or protein subuts, she also focused on the development of a thermostable RNA vaccine platform that uses a nanostructured lipid carrier (NLC) delivery system developed at AAHI to effectively deliver RNA. She has been instrumental in developing a lyophilized version of this platform, which has been shown to be stable at room temperature for at least 6 months and at refrigerated temperatures for at least 10 months, mitigating the need for deep cold-chain storage and distribution. 

Education

Ph.D., Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2014

MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2011

BS, Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon, 2008

Recent Grants and Contracts

Key person on NIH-funded project developing a thermostable tuberculosis vaccine (Contract No. HHSN272201400041C).

Key person on NIH-funded project developing a bivalent RNA-based vaccine targeting yellow fever and Zika virus (Contract No. 75N93019C00059).

Co-Principal Investigator on BARDA-funded project developing an inhalable, thermostable RNA pandemic influenza vaccine candidate (Contract No. 75A0121C00087).