The MRC and BBSRC have recently set up five Vaccine Networks through their Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). These Networks have been established to address vaccine R&D challenges primarily relevant to the health or prosperity of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Here, the convenors of one of the Networks, BactiVac, tell us more about their area of work and what they hope to achieve.
BactiVac: what is the need?
Infections account for >20% of all deaths worldwide, and are particularly problematic in LMICs. Bacterial infections contribute significantly to this burden, killing approximately 5 million people annually. The crisis of antimicrobial resistance means our options for controlling infections are narrowing. Vaccines save millions of lives yearly and are a cost-effective approach to preventing infectious diseases and their devastating sequelae. Moreover, vaccines are invaluable for studying the immune system and its functions in health and disease. There are many human and veterinary bacterial infections against which we lack any licensed vaccine. To address these issues, the MRC and BBSRC, through the Global Challenges Research Fund, have funded a number of vaccine-related networks. Our network, BactiVac, was launched in August 2017 and is led by Professors Cal MacLennan and Adam Cunningham. The Network is hosted in the University of Birmingham and benefits from a total of £2.8 million of funding to support the delivery of our aims and objectives.
What will BactiVac achieve?
Our purpose is to establish a global bacterial vaccinology network. Through this, we will accelerate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections, particularly those relevant to LMICs. The BactiVac network brings together academic, industrial and other partners involved in vaccine research against human and animal bacterial infections. Our members are from the UK, LMICs and other industrialised countries. A major function of the network is to foster new partnerships through providing catalyst project and training funding to encourage cross-collaboration between academic and industrial partners particularly in the UK and LMICs.
Join BactiVac: the benefits of membership
BactiVac membership is free and you can join our growing bacterial vaccinology community via our online simple application form. As of March 2018, we have 293 members in 41 different countries, 26% of members are based in LMICs.
Members are invited to our annual meetings, which are heavily subsidised by the Network. Our Inaugural Network meeting was held on 26 & 27 February 2018 in Birmingham and was attended by 108 of our members. The programme delivered a host of talks from internationally renowned speakers on the bacterial vaccine development pipeline. The presentations ranged from the basic science underpinning vaccine development to their commercial production and delivery. Our next annual meeting will be held on 20 & 21 March 2019 in Birmingham. BactiVac also provides travel bursaries to support travel costs for members based in LMICs.
Members can access our catalyst funding for pump priming projects and training awards to support scientists in bacterial vaccinology to explore new collaborations, approaches and strategies to advance their vaccines in partnership with LMICs and across the academia/industry divide. Our first catalyst funding call was announced at our Inaugural Network meeting. The submission deadline is 22 April 2018 with funding available from 1 June 2018.
Pump-priming projects: To provide funds for new partnerships to generate the data needed to attract more substantive, follow-on funding in bacterial vaccinology. We particularly encourage new partnerships with LMICs and industry and funding is typically up to £50k of funding for 6 months, exceptionally £100k over 12 months.
Training awards: Supporting training opportunities and exchanges, and prioritising those involving LMIC members and academic/industrial partners, to help transfer knowledge and skills in bacterial vaccinology and foster new interactions. Up to £6k is available for each visit of up to 3 months’ duration.
We strongly encourage you to become a member of the BactiVac Network, to be involved in this initiative and to be part of its success now and in the future. Together we can work collaboratively to accelerate the development of bacterial vaccines and address this devastating global infection challenge.
BactiVac Team: Dr Jo Dean, Miss Evelina Balandyte, Mrs Susan Pope, Prof Adam Cunningham & Prof Cal MacLennan
Telephone: +44 121 414 6973