Now Available: Clinical Research Preparedness Meeting Report

GloPID-R and PREPARE co-hosted “Reaching out: a meeting to advance clinical research preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks” in Brussels, Belgium in September 2018. This meeting sought to “reach out” to the different networks and stakeholders working on ID outbreak preparedness to explore, collaborate, and closely consider the PEARLES factors shaping preparedness research in order to advance our capacity to deliver clinical research as a core part of outbreak response.

GloPID-R Chair Yazdan Yazdanpanah and PREPARE’s Coordinator Herman Goossens opened the meeting and assisted in the discussions and debates that followed. The meeting had a variety of notable speakers, including Dame Sally Davies, Jean-Jacques Muyembe (INRB), Janet Diaz (WHO), Marion Koopmans (PREPARE, COMPARE), and Peter Horby (PREPARE, ISARIC, ALERRT).

Prof. Peter Horby, University of Oxford and GloPID-R Seretariat Strategy and Development Work Package Leader, said: “Clinical trials provide good evidence that a drug is both safe and effective so we can use it with confidence. There is no reason why people suffering epidemics in LMICs should not benefit from that same science. We need to do that clinical research wherever the outbreak is.”

The meeting consensus was that clinical research must be pre-positioned, pre-approved, and practiced if it is to be ready for epidemic response. Progress has been made across global regions, but innovation and investment for growth and sustainability of clinical research initiatives is needed.

Nicole Lurie, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “While each outbreak is unique, all require a core set of capabilities to respond well. If you get the core right, you have the mental agility to focus on what’s different.”

Clinical research preparedness is exceptionally challenging. Different outbreaks present different challenges and solutions that might work in one country or region might not work for others. Populism is another real and present threat across the globe.

However, delegates agreed that common solutions lie in three key areas: innovation regarding how clinical research is designed and delivered, ensuring a favorable regulatory and policy environment for clinical research, and strong partnerships with multi-stakeholder engagement.

A key outcome of this meeting was the strengthening of partnerships across existing clinical research networks resulting in plans for a joint scientific symposium in Dakar in March 2019.

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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.