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Learning from Ebola: research funders plan for future outbreaks

May 7, 2015 | Cape Town (South Africa)

Research-funding organizations from 12 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America worked together at a meeting of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) in Cape Town, May 4-5.

The meeting, "Learning from Ebola: How to better respond to the next outbreak", was hosted by the South African Medical Research Council, in partnership with the South African Department of Science and Technology. Fondation Mérieux and the University of Oxford organized the meeting, which was supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.

The conference’s main objectives were:

  • to examine the difficulties and bottlenecks encountered by researchers and research funders during the Ebola epidemic;
  • to develop proposals to resolve these issues before another outbreak occurs.

The Ebola crisis has raised awareness of how important it is to invest in research and planning before an outbreak turns into a public health crisis and to engage the scientific community from the beginning to rapidly develop the diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics that are needed.

The presentations covered a range of lessons learned after the Ebola crisis:

  • implementing clinical trials;
  • how to strengthen surveillance and early warning systems to prevent infectious diseases turning into pandemics;
  • community engagement;
  • challenges of implementing rapid funding.

During workshops, the members began the process of translating these lessons into preliminary action areas.

About the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R)

GloPID-R is the only initiative of its kind to bring together research funding organizations on a global scale to facilitate an effective research response within 48 hours of a significant outbreak of a new or re-emerging infectious disease with pandemic potential. It provides a platform for a network of research funders and scientists to work together to identify the best solutions and channel the necessary funds. This will save valuable resources and avoid the duplication of efforts and lost time during an epidemic.

The secretariat of the GloPID-R initiative is currently funded through the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and is run by Fondation Mérieux (for the AVIESAN research network) together with the University of Oxford (for the ISARIC research network). The interim chair is the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, with Vice Chairs coming from Brazil, Canada, France and South Africa.

12 countries and the European Union have major research funding organizations engaged in GloPID-R:

  • CIHR - Canadian Institutes of Health and Research (Canada)
  • Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología Mexico (Mexico)
  • European Commission- DG Research & Innovation (European Union)
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research/PT-DLR (Germany)
  • INSERM / IMMI- Institut de microbiologie et des maladies infectieuses (France)
  • Instituto Butantan and Instituto Fiocruz (Brazil)
  • Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Spain)
  • Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (Argentina)
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia)
  • National Research Foundation of Korea (South Korea)
  • South African Medical Research Council (South Africa)
  • Thai National Institute of Health, Department of Medical Sciences (Thailand)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USA)

For more information, please visit the GloPID-R website.

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