COM Keynote Headshot 700x550 1

KGI Announces Pfizer Executive Dr. Bill Gruber as Commencement Speaker

Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s Senior Vice President of Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, will serve as the keynote speaker at the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) 20th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

“I am honored for the opportunity to share in the celebration as the KGI community recognizes its Class of 2021 and Class of 2020,” Gruber said. “The past year has challenged the scientific community to think beyond our traditional ways and the KGI academic programs greatly contribute to these efforts.

“The Commencement Ceremony on May 15 will be a remarkable milestone for each of these graduates as they enter into each of their journeys for healthcare and the life sciences.”

In his role at Pfizer, Gruber is responsible for the global clinical research and development of vaccines to meet licensure and post-licensure requirements. He led the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine clinical research and development effort.

After a large-scale clinical trial of more than 44,000 participants with 95-percent efficacy, Pfizer and BioNTech were granted US FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status on Dec. 11, 2020. The companies set a goal of producing more than two billion doses worldwide in 2021.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gruber serve as the keynote speaker for our 2021 virtual commencement,” KGI President Sheldon Schuster said. “He is an accomplished leader with 36 years of innovative experience in vaccine development, and we look forward to his inspiring address to our graduates and KGI community.”

KGI has developed a strong relationship with Pfizer as a corporate partner. Pfizer has sponsored 11 Team Master’s Projects, which are opportunities for KGI students to tackle technical or business projects as part of their graduate training.

In 1999, Gruber became Vice President of Clinical Vaccine Research for Wyeth, now Pfizer Inc. Before his position at Wyeth, Gruber was an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He also served as the Director of the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Gruber is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, member of the Society for Pediatric Research, Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and member of the America Society for Microbiology. Dr. Gruber has served as a consultant reviewer for the NIAID, PATH, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and scientific journals.

Gruber received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences from Rice University and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. He received his pediatric and infectious disease training at Baylor College of Medicine, where he also served as Chief Resident in Pediatrics.

During his industry career, Gruber’s clinical research group has been responsible for global clinical research and development of now licensed pneumococcal conjugate, meningococcal conjugate, rLP2086 meningococcal B, and influenza vaccines, as well as investigational Staph aureus, C. difficile, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza, and herpes simplex virus  (HSV) vaccines. Gruber guides the clinical research and development for Pfizer’s Group B streptococcus and RSV maternal immunization vaccine programs, as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and the Pfizer-Valneva vaccine against Lyme disease.

Gruber has authored or co-authored more than 200 original research articles, invited articles, and book chapters. He is a reviewer for several scientific journals.

KGI’s 2021 Commencement will take place on May 15 with two very limited, outdoor, in-person commencement ceremonies combined with a virtual ceremony. For more information on the event, visit