Dr. Heppner is a vaccinologist and board-certified infectious disease physician with 29 years of research and development experience, including clinical trial design and execution in the US and overseas. His expertise includes preclinical, first-in-human, and field trials of new drug products in tropical medicine and biodefense. Dr. Heppner is a Managing Partner and Chief Medical Officer at Crozet BioPharma, LLC. He has held biotechnology leadership positions in government and in the private sector.
Prior to forming Crozet, Dr. Heppner was Chief Medical Officer (2015-2017) for BioProtection Systems the infectious disease subsidiary of NewLink Genetics, leading clinical and regulatory operations of the Ebola vaccine program. Prior to that, he was Senior Scientist (2012-2015) at TASC Inc. providing Advisory and Analysis Services to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for their biodefense vaccine portfolio. He was previously Vice President for Clinical Development (2011-12) at Crucell Inc., where he also co-chaired the Research & Development Transition Team for Crucell’s integration into Johnson & Johnson.
Dr. Heppner’s 23 year Army career culminated as Chief Operating Officer (2008-2011) of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), the Defense Department’s 2,000 person biomedical institute with operations in Africa, Asia and Europe. From 1999-2008, as Chief of Immunology, and then as Director of the Division of Malaria Vaccine Development, he led the Army’s international malaria vaccine program. In partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, he spearheaded development of the RTS,S/AS malaria vaccine, which later gained Gates Foundation sponsorship, and provisional EMA/WHO approval. His program developed novel prime-boost vaccine strategies, trialed the first genetically attenuated live sporozoite vaccine, and manufactured and conducted the first safety, immunogenicity and efficacy trials of pre-erythrocytic and blood stage vaccines MSP-1/AS, AMA-1/AS and LSA-1/AS. In 2003, he deployed during Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom as part of a Special Medical Augmentation Response Team to establish medical countermeasures to biowarfare threats at military treatment facilities. From 1993-1997, he led malaria vaccine, drug and diagnostic research as Assistant Chief, then Chief, Department of Immunology and Medicine at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand.