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Advanced vaccinology training for scientists from ACC and Developing Countries: from genomics to vaccination strategies for communicable diseases linked to poverty.

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From gene to vaccine

Vaccination strategies for communicable diseases, especially when linked to poverty, incorporate diverse input – from genomics to social issues. An EU-funded project, ADVAC-EC, has provided training designed to create a critical mass of decision makers in this demanding, complex area.

Health

Knowledge of all stages of an industry is an advantage and vaccinology is no exception. This would apply in particular to decision and policymakers who need an objective and informed view. The field of vaccinology starts with genomic research going on to trials and can also involve special issues from a sociological perspective depending on geography. The ADVAC-EC consortium organised training designed to target a critical mass of decision makers in both Europe and developing countries. Themes included pre-clinical vaccine research, clinical trials and the critical issue of safety concerns so often rearing its head in the field. Also covered were choice of new vaccination strategies and communication networking and dissemination of valuable information needed for rational decision making. A total of 65 participants attended the course that focused on diseases with arguably the greatest impact on health – HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Top-level lectures were followed by discussion and relevant exercises performed in small groups. Great emphasis was overall placed on promotion of contacts and networks for sustainability. After the ADVAC-EC training course, the vaccinologists had a wide appreciation of issues arising during their role as decision makers. Skills included identifying key areas of research to meet identified challenges, surrounding ethical issues, and appreciating the needs of vulnerable groups such as neonates and old people, as well as awareness of the most recent developments. ADVAC-EC has equipped key vaccinologists with the background to deal with vaccination from the point of view of health authorities and the public. Appropriate education will aid vital decisions regarding introduction of new vaccines into an immunisation programme and help in the event of crisis management, notably alleged or actual adverse effects of vaccines.

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