Paul Mensah: The Ghanaian Scientist Who Led The Team To Develop The Pfizer Vaccine

Paul Mensah led a team of scientists, engineers and technicians to develop Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine (image via St. Louis Public Radio)

Pfizer Inc. is one of the pharmaceutical companies in the world that have produced a vaccine for COVID-19. The company, in November 2020, announced that the vaccine had a 95% efficacy rate, and so far, over 40 countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany have used the Pfizer shot to vaccinate its citizens against COVID-19.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was developed by a team of scientists, engineers and technicians, led by Paul Mensah, a Ghanaian scientist.

Paul Mensah is the Vice President of the Bioprocess Research and Development group at Pfizer in St. Louis in the USA. The group he leads is responsible for developing innovative and compliant manufacturing processes for biotherapeutics, including gene therapy and vaccines.

Paul also has a global scope of responsibilities, overseeing and providing strategic direction to the scientific and operational implementation plans for all aspects of bioprocess technologies and activities to support Pfizer’s growing portfolio.

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Paul revealed that he and his team did not expect that the vaccine would be 95% effective.

“I was just ecstatic and relieved. We’ve had a team of people who have been working nonstop on this product. And when you work on these things, you never know if it’s going to work. And we never expected that it would be 95% effective. . ..You want to work on things that are impactful. But the impact of this one is especially significant, because it’s not just a small patient. The whole world — the whole world — is a patient.”

Paul Mensah received a shot of the Pfizer vaccine (image via St. Louis Public Radio)

He, however, indicated that he is proud to have contributed in developing a vaccine that will help the world overcome COVID-19.

“Years from now, many people will still be talking about the pandemic. And to be able to say that in your own little way, in your small part, you helped the world to get to a stage where we overcame this pandemic, I think that is the pinnacle of a career in my mind. That you helped make the world better.”

Paul Mensah joined Pfizer in 1999 and prior to his current role, he led the Culture Process Development group in Bioprocess R&D, which is responsible for the development, characterization, transfer, and scale-up of cell culture and fermentation processes from the regulatory toxicology stage through to licensure.

In the early part of his career, Paul held roles in the Purification Process Development group and has led teams for several biotherapeutics, helping to steer them through clinical development, from Phase 1 through Phase 3. He also served as a Research Project Leader for an asset in the Rare Disease Research Unit.

Mr Mensah is trained as a Chemical Engineer with degrees from Cornell University (B.S.) and the University of Virginia (PhD).

Paul is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Society of Biological Engineers. He serves on the advisory board of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Virginia and is a member of the External Advisory Committee for the CHO-g2p Advanced Biomanufacturing project, an NSF-funded project involving Clemson University, University of Delaware, Tulane University and Delaware State University.


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