A $10.8 million emergency funding package for research to contain the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and future outbreaks of infectious disease has been initiated by the U.K-based Wellcome Trust and the U.K. Department for International Development, administered by Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA).
The emergency Ebola initiative, under the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) program, will support research that can swiftly begin to investigate new approaches to treating, preventing and containing the disease, during the current epidemic in West Africa. It also will support research into the ethical challenges of testing experimental medicines during epidemics.
Its goals are to identify clinical and public health interventions, including drugs and vaccines with the potential to contribute to tackling the present crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, and to inform how future epidemics of Ebola and other infectious diseases are handled.
Expert teams from around the world are being invited to submit research proposals to better inform the management of Ebola outbreaks. This includes research that could produce evidence to help tackle the current outbreak.
Proposals will be reviewed immediately to enable research to start as soon as possible.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said, “We are launching an emergency call for research to strengthen what we know about Ebola and how it spreads. This will help us better equip those working on the ground so they can tackle the outbreak as effectively as possible and prevent more people contracting this terrible disease. This work, supported by the U.K., should also draw lessons for the global community on how to deal with future outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases.”
Funding from the R2HC initiative will be awarded to researchers who can provide strong evidence and analysis on the disease in areas including anthropology, clinical management, diagnosis, disease control and prevention, ethics, health systems, social mobilization, surveillance and treatment.
The initial call for proposals closes Sept. 8.
As well as funding emergency Ebola research, the Wellcome Trust is making a further long-term commitment to African health through a $66.3 million program of support for excellence in African research over five years. The investment, which marks a step change in the Trust’s activity in Africa, will support the continent to develop a world-class medical research base so it is better equipped to investigate and tackle its greatest health challenges.
The investment will launch Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Africa (DELTAS Africa), which has a long-term vision of developing a new generation of outstanding African health researchers. The initiative will provide extended support for programs that equip sub-Saharan African researchers to conduct world-leading research that addresses the continent’s health priorities, including emerging and endemic infections, persistent threats such as HIV, TB and malaria, and the growing challenge of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer and mental health.
The Wellcome Trust also established a strategic partnership with the Dangote Foundation, an African-based international philanthropic organization, to support further Ebola research.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said, “The Wellcome Trust is investing today in a package of research that can make a difference to Africa in the short, the medium and the long term. Measures to contain, treat and prevent diseases such as Ebola can be evaluated only in the context of epidemics like this one, which is why support for research is needed immediately. What we learn also could change the way we approach future outbreaks, providing us with tested tools and techniques that were not available to public health authorities this time.”