Pfizer Launches Global Centers of Excellence Network for Vaccine Research
The new network is a global program of collaborations with academic institutions. The network will conduct real-world epidemiologic research to “accurately identify and measure the burden of specific vaccine-preventable diseases and potentially evaluate vaccine effectiveness affecting adults.” The first Center of Excellence will be located at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and a second global center is expected to be announced in the second half of 2020, the company said.
“Well-conducted epidemiological surveillance in adults is a critical component to understanding the effect that direct vaccination may have in reducing the cases and consequences of infectious diseases. In contrast to the well-established surveillance systems developed for pediatric immunization programs, surveillance systems in adults are less developed and disease burden data estimates are less precise,” Nanette Cocero, global president of Pfizer Vaccines said in a statement. “With a growing aging population around the world, we’re committed to further understanding of how direct vaccination of adults may potentially help prevent certain infectious diseases.”
At the new center at the University of Louisville, two epidemiological studies will become the initial focus of research. The first is a one-year study of the incidence of infectious diarrhea. Funding of up to $6.5 million will be provided by Pfizer for this study. The second is a one-year study of the incidence of pneumonia with funding provided by Pfizer up to $4.5 million.
Louisville was selected, in part, due to the different collaborations the university was already involved with and the university’s research into disease statistics for the city of Louisville. In that research, the university was measuring the incidence of disease in Louisville, Julio Ramirez, the director of the University of Louisville Infectious Diseases Center said in a statement. The information collected allows the center to examine how often different diseases occur within the city and from there, extrapolate occurrence levels across the United States.
“This becomes very important as we are trying to study disease and develop new interventions. To develop a vaccine, it is important to understand the overall population burden of disease that the vaccine is going to prevent: How common is this illness? Who are the patients that are at higher risk? These are the questions we will be addressing with the types of studies we are going to be doing in Louisville, Kentucky,” Ramirez said in a statement.
Luis Jodar, chief medical and scientific affairs officer at Pfizer Vaccines, said the Centers of Excellence will “complete comprehensive, disease surveillance and real-world vaccine effectiveness studies,” which are “distinctly different” from clinical safety and efficacy research. By establishing the research centers across the globe, Pfizer anticipates being able to “better define and understand global disease burden in adults and vaccine effectiveness,” Jodar said in a statement. This understanding will enable the company and its research partners to provide “robust evidence” to the national policymakers and health officials who “develop recommendations for the use of vaccines in immunization programs worldwide.”
Pfizer Vaccines is currently planning to establish a few additional Centers of Excellence for epidemiological research strategically located around the world in the coming years.