Novartis to help educate a new generation of researchers

Looking to cultivate some expert assistance for on-the-ground vaccine research work, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics is partnering with the University of Siena to offer a unique, two-year Masters program covering the clinical development of vaccines for a group of doctors from developing countries. Novartis will bring its scientific know-how to the class, which will largely be made up of doctors from African and Asian countries.

"The best place to develop a vaccine for developing countries is the developing country," Dr. Giovanni Della Cioppa, head of Global Clinical Research & Development for Novartis Vaccines, tells FierceVaccines. Key factors like engineering a vaccine's resistance to high temperatures and use of local storage facilities would be built into the research programs, pushing the researchers to come up with treatments that are ideal for that environment. And these new experts on vaccine development will be free to work with any developers.

"For all of those interested in big-scale clinical research, creating new centers of excellence outside of the normal, very expensive environment of North America and Europe would be of great interest," says Dr. Cioppa, who's been thinking about setting up a program like this for the past decade.

"Clinical research and development of vaccines, along with immunology, infectivology and biostatistics, are some of the core subjects that will be addressed during the program," explains Professor Ranuccio Nuti, coordinator of the Technical-Scientific Committee. "Our aim is to provide these medical professionals with the knowledge necessary to meet the demands arising in the area of neglected diseases as well as to prepare them to react proactively to situations such as the recent outbreak of the H1N1 virus in Mexico."

The first year of the program will cover immunology, infectivology, methodology of clinical research, pharmacovigilance, biostatistics, clinical data management and vaccine production. The second year of the course will focus on applying the skills acquired during the program in vaccine research and development programs.

- read the press release