The NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre is among organisations supporting a conference in the city next month about the global response to Ebola.
Researchers, Government leaders and industry professionals who led the worldwide fight against Ebola are to come together in Oxford for the first time since the disease was largely controlled.
Speakers, including the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, will speak at the free-to-attend event, which is open to all.
It will examine how leaders in research, Government and industry collaborated to develop vaccines to tackle the outbreak, which began in March 2014.
The conference – held at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, OX1 1HP, on Wednesday, July 15 from 3pm – will also discuss how this collaborative approach can lead to new approaches in drug discovery and development.
It will feature 15-minute talks by each speaker, followed by a panel discussion, wine reception and networking session. Online registration is required but tickets are free.
The event is sponsored by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre; Isis Innovation, the research and technology commercialisation company of the University of Oxford; The BioHub Birgmingham and Lonza.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe and usually fatal disease that was discovered in 1976. It was first transmitted to human from wild animals and spread through human-to-human transmission.
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest Ebola outbreak ever since the discovery of the disease.
It has caused over 10,000 deaths since the first case in March 2014 and there have been more than 25,000 reported cases, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The risk of infection spreading to the UK remains low but consequences could be devastating.
The outbreak has led to scrutiny of the time taken to develop and approve new drugs and vaccines, as the average timeframe to develop and commercialise a drug is currently around ten years and at a cost of almost £2bn.
The event has been organised by Oxford Biotech, a new company started by current University of Oxford doctoral students to quicken the transition of laboratory discoveries into commercial products by bringing together resources from academia and industry.
The speakers are:
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health: Dame Sally helped to oversee the NHS response for potential arrival of Ebola cases in the UK, and was responsible for briefing MPs on the associated risks and actions taken in mitigation. She also played a crucial role in communicating this to the public through the media, whilst acting as a proponent for taking action in Africa to help those affected by the virus.
Prof Miles Carroll, Head of Research, Public Health England: this UK Government body has received £200,000 funding from The Wellcome Trust to evaluate potential treatment options for Ebola. Prof Carroll has been working in Guinea in testing the Ebola vaccine VSV-EBOV, which was developed by Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory. Prof Carroll also volunteered to be vaccinated.
Prof. Adrian Hill, Oxford Ebola Clinical Trial Group Leader and Director, The Jenner Institute, The University of Oxford: Prof Hill has led clinical trials to develop safe Ebola vaccines with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and others and trials are also taking place in Oxford for two further vaccines with Crucell Holland B.V, a Janssen Pharmaceutical subsidiary.
Dr W Shawn Carbonell CEO and Founder, OncoSynergy: Dr Carbonell started a successful crowdfunding campaign in April 2014 for OncoSynergy to test its experimental cancer drug, against Ebola, after it was found that it targeted the same receptor involved in Ebola infection.
Dr Adam Hacker, VP Global Regulatory Affairs & Ebola Project Oversight Leader, Janssen Pharmaceutica: Dr Hacker is responsible for the development of two vaccines in Johnson & Johnson.
Dr Marguerite Koutsoukos, Ebola & HIV Project Oversight Leader, GlaxoSmithKline: Dr Koutsoukos is the Ebola Project Leader at GSK, whose vaccine is currently under clinical trials and has been tested in five countries.
Dr Carbonell said: “The West Africa Ebola outbreak has revealed the potential of governments, charities, and the healthcare industry to mobilize and execute in the context of grave urgency. Why can’t this be our standard approach to other serious diseases with urgent unmet needs?”
Prof Carroll said: “The recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa has reaffirmed the need for a globally coordinated approach to the healthcare challenges of the 21st century.
Tom Fleming from Oxford Biotech said: “This afternoon of discussions, which is free and open to all, will explore how lessons learned and partnerships forged during the global response to Ebola could be applied to future drug development efforts. Drug development could be accelerated through collaboration to bring life-saving medicines to patients faster and cheaper”.