VaxGen hires news communications head

BRISBANE, CA: VaxGen, which recently won an exclusive government contract to develop an anthrax vaccine, has hired a new head of communications to help meet its expanded PR challenges.

BRISBANE, CA: VaxGen, which recently won an exclusive government contract to develop an anthrax vaccine, has hired a new head of communications to help meet its expanded PR challenges.

Paul Laland stepped into the role of VP of corporate and financial communications last week. He will report to VP of corporate affairs Lance Ignon, who previously handled those PR responsibilities, but will now devote more time to government affairs.

VaxGen received the $877.5 million contract from the Department of Health and Human Services in November.

"The government is a large customer, obviously," Laland said. "We really need to communicate with them as well as other constituents."

In a statement, Ignon noted that the contract "fundamentally changed our business," and created new opportunities to reach out to other potential customers, such as foreign governments and multinational organizations.

"It's a great story," Laland said, adding that VaxGen's story is unique in the biotech sphere.

While all biotechs must communicate about product development milestones, VaxGen will also focus on its role in biodefense.

VaxGen will provide 75 million doses of the vaccine as part of Project BioShield, a government program that procures biodefense products.

Separately, VaxGen is also developing a smallpox vaccine for both US and international markets.

Laland joins the biotechnology company from Fleishman-Hillard, where he led the life sciences group and co-chaired the healthcare practice.

Co-chairs Michael Rinaldo and Anne St. Peter will continue to lead the healthcare practice in the US. Fleishman has not yet determined whether it will replace Laland.

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