Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., MBA

Dr. Saphire is a professor in LJI’s Center for Vaccine Innovation and the Director of the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC), which united academics, non-profits, small and large biotechs, and major corporations from around the globe to address the urgent need of identifying the most efficacious antibody therapeutics to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Throughout her career, Dr. Saphire had her sights firmly trained on the global threat of highly infectious diseases. Before CoVIC, she galvanized the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium (VIC), a multidisciplinary, five-continent collaboration of former competitors that together accelerated the research pipeline against emerging viral threats such as Ebola and Lassa. In her own lab, Dr. Saphire studies the three-dimensional structures that drive immune recognition and protection. Her research reveals where viruses are vulnerable, how a successful immune response can be mounted, and draws the blueprints for better vaccines and treatments.

Dr. Saphire received an undergraduate degree from Rice University with a dual major in Biochemistry and in Cell Biology and Evolutionary Biology. She received her Ph.D. degree in 2000 from Scripps Research. After postdoctoral work at Scripps Research, Dr. Saphire joined the faculty at Scripps Research as an Assistant Professor in 2003. Dr. Saphire was steadily promoted there, becoming a full Professor in 2012. In 2019, she joined LJI and recently in 2023, received her MBA from the University of California San Diego. California Life Sciences recently recognized her leadership with the 2023 Pantheon Awardee for Academia, Non-Profit, & Research. 

Dr. Saphire’s work has been recognized at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, with young investigator awards from the International Congress of Antiviral Research, the American Society for Microbiology, and the MRC Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom. She has been awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship from the United States Department of State and a Mercator Fellowship from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, to develop international collaborations using cryoelectron microscopy to further global health.