Nature publishes article by key GloPID-R participants calling for new approach to future epidemic preparedness and response
A group of scientists, under the leadership of GloPID-R Vice-Chair Jeremy Farrar (Wellcome Trust) and including GloPID-R scientific advisor, Marion Koopmans (Erasmus MC), has published an article in the prestigious journal Nature. The article, ‘A new twenty-first century science for effective epidemic response’, calls for fundamental changes to the epidemic response structure and a transformation in the way researchers and practitioners are trained for the future.
The authors believe that global changes in demographics, travel and trade, along with their impact on the environment and climate have fundamental impacts on the dynamics of infectious diseases. With the addition of “Disease X” to their list of priority pathogens of concern, the World Health Organization has called for attention to what is described as the ‘new normal’. In the article, Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the health emergencies program, WHO states that he does not expect the frequency of these events to reduce.
GloPID-R scientific advisor, Prof. Marion Koopmans was motivated to contribute to this publication as a scientist with a passion for One Health preparedness research. Her hope is that: “a funding landscape will evolve that attracts team efforts, including an ambitious science agenda.”
According to Prof. Koopmans, the huge success now seen in a first licensed Ebola vaccine, and the likely therapeutics to follow, depended on foundations laid decades ago through basic science in a range of fields. She goes on to say that current, important steps in embedded outbreak research still tend to follow traditional partnership agreements, stimulated by a siloed funder landscape and equally siloed combinations of disciplines. She adds: “Maybe it is time for a truly global infectious disease preparedness research academy, a fellowship program that trains translational research teams with foundations both in basic science and public health, brought together through problem-based learning.”
“Thinking this through requires taking the time away from outbreaks, to have the time and patience to ensure a truly novel curriculum to understand the contributions of different partners in the knowledge chain, and the use of knowledge, skills and competencies in outbreak response situations. In our paper, we have listed what we see as critical expertise that should therefore be involved in development.”