GloPID-R’s scientific activity in the spotlight

As the head of GloPID-R’s team of scientists and policy specialists, I am pleased to have the opportunity to shine the spotlight on GloPID-R’s scientific activity during what has been an especially productive year thus far.

Dr. Alice Norton, Scientific Manager, GloPID-R

Many of our readers are participants in one or more of GloPID-R’s five working groups. Our reinvigorated Clinical Trial Networks & Funders (CTN&F) group has gained momentum as well as many new members. These representatives of clinical trial networks and funders will meet in late September to finalize the development of a living roadmap of principles, standards and actions for funders, which will be presented at the GloPID-R General Assembly meeting in Berlin in October. We hope to make it available publicly in 2023.

This living roadmap is a ground-breaking initiative for funders. It supports the recommendation from the 75th World Health Assembly resolution (May 2022) to strengthen clinical trials and improve research coordination globally, particularly in low-resource settings. Experience from COVID-19 and previous pandemics indicates that the quality and coordination of clinical trials in LMICS can be improved by taking a regional approach, and this is precisely what our alliance of funders has tackled with GloPID-R’s regional hub strategy. Today our first hub, in the Asia-Pacific region, is in the implementation phase and a kick-off conference is planned in South Korea in November 2022. We were recently successful in our application for an EDCTP grant funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (UKCDR) to establish the African regional hub. A launch meeting for this second hub is planned in the first half of 2023 . In the future, GloPID-R intends to create two more hubs, to serve Latin America and North America & Europe. Each hub is designed to work in close coordination with the GloPID-R central secretariat. This decentralized structure will allow us to strengthen regional networks, which will in turn feed the funders’ contribution to the living roadmap currently being produced by the CTN&F WG.

GloPID-R’s other working groups have also been very active. Our Data Sharing group is contributing to the CTN&F living roadmap while advancing the GloPID-R data sharing roadmap and providing input into data sharing principles for clinical trials. Our Research in LMICs working group is exploring options for coordinated funding and best practice for the development and application of research priorities during epidemics and pandemics. The Social Sciences group, which in 2020 contributed to the launch of the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery, is contemplating new directions for a reformed working group. Our fifth group, devoted to One Health, is currently being established jointly with STAR-IDAZ.

The global pandemic has shown us just how valuable it is to have tracking tools to direct funding where it is needed for epidemic and pandemic preparedness & response research. The COVID-19 Research Project Tracker developed by UKCDR & GloPID-R has been hailed by the WHO as “instrumental in reaching global funding decisions.” As of mid-July, it includes data on 16,600 projects funded by 335 organisations, taking place across 158 countries and representing at least $6 billion in investment. Building on the lessons learnt from the Research Project Tracker, our ambition is to develop a more powerful tracker with the research and analytical capability to collate and analyse global funding data for a wide range of epidemic-prone diseases and broader epidemic and pandemic research preparedness activities on an ongoing basis. This new tool, called Pandemic PACT (Preparedness: Analytical Capacity and Funding Tracking programme), will be aligned to research roadmaps and Rapid Research Needs Appraisals.

As we are all aware, the emerging infectious disease threat facing us today is monkeypox. As of July 18, there are 13,340 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported in 69 countries. We have been supporting our membership through regular reports on monkeypox as well as novel hepatitis.

Clearly, if Pandemic PACT were already up and running, it would greatly facilitate a coordinated research response to monkeypox. Without it, we cannot gain a clear view of what research is being funded, where, and by whom to identify research needs and coordinate. We are in the process of securing funding from IDRC and EDCTP (UK DHSC funds) for the first phase of this exciting programme and will be forming the Programme Advisory Board for the work in September. GloPID-R needs additional support for this project from members to ensure the Pandemic PACT’s enduring success as a core resource for the GloPID-R membership. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch.

Please look out for two forthcoming publications that the GloPID-R Secretariat has contributed to: first, a review of clinical guidelines for monkeypox (accepted for publication in BMJ Global Health) and second, an article on novel hepatitis in children (accepted for publication in BMC Medicine).

I am looking forward to seeing you at the GloPID-R General Assembly taking place October 19-20, 2022 in Berlin immediately following the World Health Assembly.

Dr. Alice Norton,
Scientific Manager, GloPID-R

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The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101094188.