Our vital role in the international funders’ landscape
Over the past two years, as the global community has responded to the different challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vital role of GloPID-R in the international funders’ landscape has become increasingly clear. With the significant health, social and economic impacts of successive waves of COVID-19, the importance of coordinating research funders and funding in order to be better prepared to respond to infectious disease outbreaks swiftly and effectively is more apparent than ever before.
Indeed, this is the rationale behind GloPID-R, initiated in 2013 by the Heads of International Research Organizations (HIROs). As we approach our 10th anniversary, and transition into a new phase (more on that below), it is worthwhile to applaud the truly far-sighted vision of the HIROs: to ensure greater global research collaboration and coordination to combat the threat of new or re-emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential. This is what GloPID-R has strived to deliver, especially over the past two years.
The COVID pandemic has not only confirmed GloPID-R’s original raison d’etre, it has also given us the opportunity to be more proactive in how we lead global preparedness and response activities. Our visibility and capacity for influence have expanded steadily along with our membership. Since I began my term as the Chair of GloPID-R in November 2020, the number of members and observers has grown to reach 33 funder members and 7 observer organizations actively engaged in our network today.
In recent months we have made significant strides in addressing many of our key priorities, such as the implementation of our regional strategy, designed to strengthen regional research networks, aligned with their specific needs and gaps. Our Asia-Pacific Regional Hub, led by KRIBB in South Korea, and supported by an Advisory Group led by AMED from Japan, has started to implement its development plan. Preparations for our African Regional hub are also well under way. I am pleased to announce that GloPID-R’s application for funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Sciences (DHSC) through EDCTP (European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership) has been submitted to support the development of the African Regional hub. This will allow us to map the infectious disease research funding landscape in Africa and bring together local stakeholders to increase regional engagement and membership. The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has committed to act as the regional secretariat for the first three years and will be supported by an Advisory Group comprised of GloPID-R members in Africa and additional external stakeholders.
The Funders’ Roundtable on Clinical Trials, co-convened by GloPID-R and DHSC on February 3, 2022, is another sign of growing international recognition for GloPID-R and ever-closer cooperation with our key partners. This virtual event, which brought together over 70 participants including global research funders as well as WHO and G7 stakeholders, explored barriers and solutions to effective clinical trials, drawing on lessons from the research response to COVID-19 and previous epidemics. The Funders’ Roundtable is connected to another exciting development for GloPID-R, namely the renewal of the GloPID-R Clinical Trial Networks & Funders Working Group, which is focused on strengthening the coordination of effective, international clinical research responses to future epidemics and pandemics. The group is now working on developing a set of Funders’ Standards for Coordination of Global Clinical Trial Responses to help inform policy and practice during outbreaks.
I also invite you to read the newest iteration of the Living Mapping Review (LMR), published in March 2022. For the first time, the LMR features an analysis of research projects on our UKCDR/GloPID-R COVID-19 Research Project Tracker mapped against the pillars and priorities outlined in the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery.
Finally, there are some changes happening in the GloPID-R Secretariat, as we are finalizing the application for renewed funding under the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme, with the current funding cycle coming to an end in 2022. If the application is successful, the Secretariat will be moving to a new host organisation with Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, who have confirmed their commitment to act as the main coordinator for GloPID-R from 2023 onwards. This new development will offer many exciting opportunities and projects to look forward to, as Charité is part of the wider global health ecosystem in Berlin and beyond, and is responsible for a number of networks and initiatives providing further growth opportunities for GloPID-R. With this in mind, the next GloPID-R General Assembly will take place in Berlin, October 19-20, 2022 and I invite all of you to save the dates and plan to join us there.
As always, we encourage our members to actively engage in the different initiatives being led within GloPID-R and we welcome your collaboration in efforts to strengthen preparedness and facilitate rapid research responses. Our continued partnership with all of you will be critical as we move towards the next phase of our development, and I look forward to seeing you in Berlin in October.