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Michael Davis, PhD, is responsible for managing the Research Associates (RAs) on the RNA vaccine team and ensuring research projects are executed swiftly and efficiently. He primarily supports activities under AAHI's recent NIH award to develop a temperature stable Chikungunya RNA vaccine candidate through Phase 1 clinical trials. The award, led by Dr. Emily Voigt, Principal Scientist and Director of the RNA Vaccine Team, will be the first evaluation of a freeze-dried presentation of AAHI's RNA platform technology in humans. Michael also contributes to grant proposals to expand the applications of the RNA platform technologies. His passion and curiosity for developing vaccines and immunotherapies using novel technology is inspiring. 

What does a day at AAHI as an RNA Platform Senior Scientist entail?

My name is Michael Davis and I work on the RNA Vaccines team. I am a Senior Scientist.

My day-to-day activities is more like a juggler trying to keep twenty balls in the air at a time and what I was ultimately brought in on was to help write grants, but then also to manage a recently funded project to develop a vaccine against Chikungunya. So that's a very large project that has not only mouse studies, but NHP studies and a Phase I trial. So quite a lot going on.

I am now also supervising the seven RAs that we have on our team. They make my life easy; they do a great job of coordinating themselves, of trying to make sure their work goes off without a hitch. That is kind of what I do on a day-to-day basis.

Why did you pursue a career at AAHI?

I chose to work at AAHI because of the RNA Vaccine program. My PhD is in Cancer Biology. Ten years ago, I moved into Innate Immunity. Then the pandemic hit, then started working on SARS-CoV-2.

We were trying to figure out why some people can respond to the virus and others can't. Why people who are older have a harder time; why people of different sexes have a harder time. Because of that I have a strong interest in these RNA based therapies.

Once the pandemic started to wane and my studies were finishing up well, I saw this job posting and it was certainly very exciting. So that is what brought me to AAHI.

What's your favorite thing about working at AAHI?

So far, it's the people. I really like team science, I like collaborating with people, and mentoring people, interacting with people. I thought I was good at that before. Working here is like team science on steroids; everybody is so interactive. And everybody has a hand in every project, but everyone is very committed to AAHI and the work we do. It's refreshing.

"Working here is like team science on steroids; everybody is so interactive."

Why did you choose to work in Seattle?

My wife and I who met at the same lab were looking to hopefully find places that would take us both and we found one here.

Seattle to me, it just had a more hometown feel. That was in 2005, so we put down roots. I have two kids; this is their home. I have no need to move anywhere else.

What is your advice for people interested in becoming a Senior Scientist?

You know I think having expertise in flow cytometry, having expertise in T-cell immunity, immunology, b-cell immunology. Being able to apply that to either cancer or to infectious disease is important.

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