The way forward for GloPID-R: path travelled and opportunities ahead

“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that with collaboration, innovation and the equitable use of health technologies, we can overcome serious public health threats. It has also made clear the value of initiatives like GloPID-R, by coordinating global funders and activities to support critical research in addressing the pandemic. We must now apply the lessons learnt for our future work, further strengthening our collaboration and investing in health research.”

Barbara Kerstiens GloPID-R Co-Chair

This year an important change is happening at GloPID-R, with the Mérieux Foundation transferring its coordinator role to the Charité Center for Global Health in Berlin. Mérieux Foundation has been crucial for the set up and the initiation of the work of GloPID-R, providing constant support and working to enhance the visibility of the project. I would like to use the opportunity to sincerely thank the Mérieux Foundation for their great engagement since 2014 to establish the GloPID-R Secretariat and provide the vehicle to build the inspiring network we have today. We welcome Charité into its new role of GloPID-R secretariat coordinator, for which it is very well placed as a leader in the international and global health space. With Charité, we hope to further enhance the effectiveness of the coalition as well as its ambitions. This change of the GloPID-R secretariat coordinator also marks the third consecutive funding cycle through which the European Commission supports the Secretariat since its establishment, to carry out their crucial work.

This transition of the GloPID-R secretariat comes at a pivotal moment in GloPID-R’s existence. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an important catalyser, clearly illustrating both the network’s added value and its potential. The renewed dynamic consolidates and expands GloPID-R’s contribution to improving the international framework in which preparedness and response research takes place, creating links between clinical trial networks across the globe and strengthening data sharing in emergencies.  New funding sources and mechanisms to facilitate GloPID-R’s work, including targeted tasks and objectives, have also been brought about by the pandemic and have supported this momentum.

This new dynamic was illustrated nicely during the September meeting of the Clinical Trial Networks and Funders Working Group (CTN&F WG). This WG was established to act as a knowledge exchange platform to address the challenges in the funding of coordinated, efficient, effective clinical trial responses to (re-) emerging epidemics and pandemics. The meeting held in Annecy allowed funders and the clinical trial networks to discuss and refine the GloPID-R clinical trial coordination roadmap, including recommendations and actions within it. We are excited to see this important work being taken forward, as it brings a promising common framework for stronger funders coordination in clinical research.

In October, many of us managed to meet in person in Berlin for the General Assembly; it was a true pleasure being able to exchange and discuss without a screen between us. A great thanks to our German hosts and especially to the secretariat team for doing a fantastic job in organising a rich meeting agenda. We discussed a range of issues and topics, including the living Funders Roadmap for the Coordination of Clinical Trials, the development of the Pandemic “Preparedness: Analytical Capacity and Funding Tracking” (PACT) and the way forward on coordinated funding. I very much enjoyed the discussions highlighting the importance of the One Health approach as an integral part of pandemic preparedness and response. COVID-19 has made increasingly clear that the One Health approach is crucial to address new disease threats that affect both people and animals and where some of the drivers are found in the environment.  We must work together to increase research in this area. Also, I think everyone around the table was very excited about the progress made in the development of the regional GloPID-R hubs, currently in Asia and on the African continent. We are learning as we are moving forward, but these hubs are a key milestone in the future of GloPID-R.

As we reach the end of the year, it is good to use this time to reflect on the path travelled and the opportunities that lie ahead. During these past two years, GloPID-R has grown its membership and incorporated new observers, such as the European and Developing Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Most importantly, GloPID-R has obtained a solid and distinct place in the global pandemic preparedness research landscape. We look forward to capitalise further on the progress achieved and to continue to work together more closely across borders to build better preparedness for the health threats to come.

Barbara Kerstiens
GloPID-R Co-Chair

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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.