* International Cooperation
All countries, everywhere in the world, are confronted with health challenges. And all countries potentially stand to benefit when major breakthroughs are made.
As one of the world leaders in health research, the European Union has been encouraging international cooperation to achieve such breakthroughs for decades. Successive framework programmes have increasingly emphasised the need to bring together complementary competencies from around the world and foster constructive collaborations across borders to optimise the results of R&D efforts.
The EUs research framework programmes provide opportunities for transnational cooperation. All health research topics are open to such cooperation.
Project consortia are invited to include research partners from third countries. International cooperation under FP7 is unique in that its focus, besides combining global S&T activities, is to bring thematic and geographical goals to fruition. A number of third countries have already gone a step forward and created contact points which develop and strengthen knowledge transfer and network with the scientific communities within the EU.
Thus, international cooperation has the objectives of supporting European scientific and economic development through strategic partnerships with third countries and also addressing specific problems that third countries face or that have a global character.
For further information see: http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/health/international-cooperation_en.html.
International large scale omics research initiatives
European & developing countries clinical trials partnerships EDCTP
The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was created in 2003 by the European Union (EU) in response to the global health crisis caused by the three main poverty-related diseases of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Its aim is to accelerate the availability of new or improved drugs, vaccines and microbicides against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis by integrating national investments of European partner countries and developing a genuine partnership with African partner countries.
Since 2003, EDCTP supported 163 projects with a total value of approximately 311 million. Among these are 54 clinical trials of which 24 are on HIV/AIDS ( 102 million), 18 on tuberculosis ( 99 million) and 12 on malaria ( 69 million). These projects involve researchers from 29 sub-Saharan African countries and 14 European partner countries working in 140 research institutions in Africa and 51 in Europe. It also involves the participation of 39 not-for-profit institutions and 20 private/industry organisations.
EDCTP succeeded to build a true partnership between Europe and Africa. In this regard, it is worth noting that 62% of all EDCTP-funded projects are lead by African researchers as the project coordinators. EDCTP is producing important results: i) African Networks of Excellence for clinical trials have been established in the four main sub-Saharan regions; ii) National regulatory authorities and ethics review capacities have been strengthened in many African countries; iii) the Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) was established as an African initiative funded by EDCTP and is now officially recognised as a WHO Primary Registry; iv) the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an anti-retroviral formulation for HIV infected children in Africa, which was tested in an EDCTP project.
Currently, EDCTP is a partnership between 16 European and 47 sub-Saharan African partner countries. It is the first initiative based on Art 185 of the EU treaty (ex-Article 169), which allows the EU's participation in research programmes undertaken by several EU member states. It is funded with 200 million by the EU and co-funded with 200 million from the 16 European partner countries. Additional co-funding comes from third parties. Overall, 60 calls for proposals have been launched since the beginning of the programme in 2003. The total number of proposals received for the entire programme is 421, while 163 of these were funded.
Fight Hepatitis C in Egypt - Launch of programme-level cooperation
Hepatitis C (HCV) infection is a leading killer worldwide. The WHO estimates that 3% (170 million) of the world's population are chronically infected with HCV. The situation is particularly alarming in Egypt where the average infection rate is around 15% but up to 50% in certain regions and age groups.
In Europe the prevalence of HCV is only around 1% but can be as high as 5 to 8% in certain regions in the mediterranean area. Thus, the European Commission and Egypt's Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF) agreed to join forces in a programme-level cooperation on HCV research.
At the launch meeting held on 11 November 2010 in Cairo the two EU-funded projects (involving 27 partners) met with Principal Investigators funded through the STDF's HCV programme to present and discuss possible avenues for scientific cooperation. Among the activities foreseen, the EU-funded projects HepaCute and SPHINX will organise scientific workshops, staff exchanges and training (summer schools) for researchers and students, but also issues like HCV detection and registration, exchange of patient data and biological samples, clinical trials and access to research infrastructures and services are being considered to intensify research links and cooperation with Egypt on HCV.