Vaccine Development Lead, Operation Warp Speed
Dr. Matthew Hepburn is currently the Vaccine Lead for Operational Warp Speed. Prior to this position, Dr. Hepburn served as the Joint Project Lead, Enabling Biotechnologies for the JPEO CBRND defense. In this role, Dr. Hepburn was responsible for establishing a ‘start-to-finish’ capability to develop vaccines and therapeutic solutions against current future biological threats. Due to the creation of this foundational capability, Dr. Hepburn and the Enabling Biotechnology team implemented the DoD Vaccine Acceleration Project, which provides key investments to advance vaccines and antibody therapeutic efforts, with special emphasis on acceleration of manufacturing these products and clinical trials. These investments also provided critical initial actions to enable Operation Warp Speed.
Prior to his assignment as JPEO CBRN Enabling Biotechnologies, Dr. Hepburn served 23 years active duty Army, retiring as a Colonel. His final assignment was as a Program Manager at DARPA (2013-2019), where he served for almost 6 years, and implemented numerous breakthrough investment programs to prepare for the current pandemic. These investments led to improved infectious diseases forecasting, better diagnostics and medical care in resource-limited settings, and development of vaccine and therapeutic products. A significant investment in rapid antibody discovery and scaling was the ‘Pandemic Prevention Platform’ aimed at discovery of antibodies and product into clinical trials in 60 days. These investment were applied during the current pandemic, leading to many of the current therapeutic antibody portfolio of investment by Operation Warp Speed and the DoD.
Concurrent with the first two years at DARPA, Dr. Hepburn also served on the Research and development team at the newly Research, Development and Acquisitions Directorate at the Defense Health Agency. From 2010-2013, he served as Director of Medical Preparedness on the White House National Security Staff. In this role, he was responsible for leading interagency policy process to address the lessons learned from the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Accomplishments included completion of the National Strategy for Biosurveillance, which created the policy framework to support advances in public health surveillance applied for the current pandemic.
Additional assignments have included Chief Medical Officer, Level 2 Treatment facility in Iraq (2009-2010), for which he earned a Bronze Star. Prior to deployment, Dr. Hepburn was Clinical Research Director at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (2007-2009), leading domestic and international clinical research efforts on biodefense products. This role entailed extensive service with the Cooperative Threat Reduction program in the republics of the former Soviet Union. Dr. Hepburn was also an exchange officer to the United Kingdom (2005-2007) and internal medicine chief of residents at Brooke Army Medical Center (2000-2001) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Dr. Hepburn received his infectious disease fellowship and internal medicine residency training at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He received his medical degree and undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University.
For the first time in human history, a new set of genomic tools can very possibly end pandemics before they begin. Yet realizing this possibility will require a different balance between incremental and moonshot approaches than exists today in our national research and development portfolio. Hear how investment in moonshot ideas now could transform our response to health crises in the future.