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Harnessing the power of research to benefit developing countries

last modified Feb 26, 2014 06:38 PM

CEO of GAVI Alliance to give Wellcome Trust-Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research inaugural lecture 

We have made great progress in the past decade, but the stark reality is that 22 million children born every year around the world don’t receive the immunisation they need.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance

On Thursday 2 May, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, Dr Seth Berkley, will discuss how to harness the power of research to expedite the development of vaccines appropriate for developing countries and improve access to them.

Dr Berkley’s talk will set out how the GAVI Alliance’s public-private partnership model brings together donors, developing countries, industry, civil society and academia to solve the challenges of reaching every child with vaccines no matter where they are born.

GAVI leverages expertise across a variety of sectors, including innovative financing for development, supply chain management, the development of mobile phone platforms for the collection of epidemiological data, mathematical modelling of infectious disease and health economics and policy.

Prior to joining GAVI in 2011, Dr Berkley was the founder, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) for over a decade. His talk, ‘Harnessing the power of science research and the public and private sector: a 21st century model for international development’, is the Wellcome Trust-Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research’s inaugural lecture.

Dr Berkley’s talk will be followed with a presentation by the world-leading flu expert, Professor Derek Smith, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Modelling, Evolution and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Cambridge. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers after the talks. 

The evening begins at 5.30pm at the Howard Lecture Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge (map). If you would like to attend, please RSVP:

Professor David Dunne, Director of the Wellcome Trust-Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research and host of the lecture, said: “By partnering with globally important organisations such as the GAVI Alliance, Cambridge’s multi-disciplinary research and technology communities can have a more profound effect on international development, public health, and the lives of people in the developing world.”

“As an innovative public-private partnership, the GAVI Alliance works to harness the expertise and experience from a range of sectors to help us to improve access to lifesaving vaccines for children in developing countries,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “Our partners range from WHO and UNICEF to donors – including the UK government – implementing countries, vaccine manufacturers, civil society organisations, and academia. 

“We have made great progress in the past decade, but the stark reality is that 22 million children born every year around the world don’t receive the immunisation they need against potentially fatal childhood illnesses.  Supply chain management, improving the quality of vaccine coverage data and developing vaccines that remain highly effective outside of cold storage systems are just some of the challenges which, if they can be overcome, would have a huge positive impact on GAVI’s ability to reach more children.

“Cambridge University has an outstanding reputation for academic research, coupled with its commitment to Africa, which makes it an ideal forum to set out the challenges and opportunities in improving access to immunisation in developing countries.”   

The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership which aims to immunise a quarter of a billion additional children in the developing world with life-saving vaccines by 2015. With GAVI support, countries are now introducing new vaccines against the primary causes of two of the biggest childhood killers in the world: pneumonia and severe diarrhoea. Together these diseases account for 30% of child deaths in low-income countries. It was established in 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government and others to improve access to immunisation.

The Wellcome Trust-Cambridge Centre for Global Health Research status was awarded to the University of Cambridge in February of this year. The Centre plans to capture and capitalise on the extensive basic biomedical and health-related research capacity across many departments and research institutes in Cambridge. It will make this fully available for research capacity building and knowledge exchange partnerships with African universities and institutes, as a means of improving the health and welfare of those in low- and middle-income countries.

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Dr Julian Rayner

Professor Ian Goodfellow