The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota has received a grant from Wellcome Trust to support the development of an influenza vaccines research and development (R&D) roadmap.
CIDRAP is a global leader in addressing public health preparedness and emerging infectious disease response. CIDRAP’s previous research on influenza vaccine R&D includes the Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative, which resulted in a 2012 report. CIDRAP has also been active in R&D roadmap development for the World Health Organization, having recently completed roadmaps for Ebola/Marburg, Lassa fever and Nipah medical countermeasures.
An influenza vaccines R&D roadmap is aimed at accelerating progress toward development of universal influenza vaccines, one of the most critical global public-health priorities for prevention and control of infectious diseases. No such R&D roadmap currently exists.
The $1.1 million, two-year Wellcome Trust grant supports a CIDRAP team to research and create the roadmap to accelerate the development of broadly protective influenza vaccines for preventing seasonal influenza and enhancing pandemic influenza preparedness.
The CIDRAP team is directed by Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, and School of Public Health faculty member. In addition to Osterholm, the team includes CIDRAP staff members Kristine Moore, Julie Ostrowsky, and Anje Mehr.
“By highlighting key research gaps, identifying strategic goals and milestones and encouraging synergistic R&D activities, the roadmap will serve as a valuable tool to advance a complex field of vaccine research and stimulate informed investment in influenza vaccine R&D,” says Osterholm.
“Flu is an incredibly complex disease and there are many questions that we need to answer before we can hope to develop a universal vaccine,” says Josie Golding from Wellcome’s Vaccines program. “The new roadmap will help provide some much needed clarity on what a universal flu vaccine could look like, and the vital steps needed to develop one. CIDRAP is well placed to bring all interested parties together to meet this challenge and take us a step closer to impacting many lives.”
To inform roadmap development and facilitate collaboration and consensus among a wide range of stakeholders, the CIDRAP team will focus on the following efforts:
- Reviewing current scientific and programmatic efforts aimed at developing universal and improved seasonal influenza vaccines
- Establishing a taskforce of 25 to 30 key subject matter experts in a collaborative, multidisciplinary forum to provide the expertise and real-world experience needed to inform the roadmap
- Creating an initial draft of the influenza vaccines roadmap, which will highlight the current status of influenza vaccine R&D, scientific challenges and knowledge gaps, key R&D needs, and strategic R&D goals and priorities for enhancing seasonal influenza vaccines and developing universal influenza vaccines
- Conducting an in-person consultation with a broad range of stakeholders in influenza vaccine R&D to develop consensus on strategic priorities and obtain global perspectives and more diverse feedback on the draft roadmap
- Finalizing and publishing the roadmap for publication in 2020
“Influenza, and particularly pandemic influenza, remains one of the greatest global health challenges today, and the results of this project will go a long way toward reducing these risks,” says Osterholm.